PEN America Literary Awards PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel

 

The PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel honors a debut novel of exceptional merit by an American author who has not previously published a full-length book of fiction. One winner will be selected by a panel of three esteemed writers. The winner will receive a $25,000 cash prize intended to allow significant time and resources with which to pursue a subsequent work of fiction. All competition honorees receive Residency Fellowships at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming, a retreat for artists and writers.

All winners and finalists for this award are eligible to receive PEN America’s official winner or finalist seal. If you are a publisher of a shortlisted or winning book for this award and are interested in obtaining PEN America’s award seal, please write to [email protected].


Applications for the 2020 Awards cycle are now open. Submit your application for the 2020 PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel here »

 

2019 Finalists

2019 PEN/Hemingway finalists

Featured Honoree: Tommy Orange, 2019 Winner

There There by Tommy Orange

Tommy Orange

There There by Tommy Orange (Knopf)
Hudson Booksellers Ι Indiebound

Judges: Cristina Garcia, Dinaw Mengestu, Scott Simon

From the judges’ citation: “Tommy Orange’s There There is a devastatingly beautiful novel, as acutely attuned to our current cultural and political condition as it is to the indelible legacy of violence that brought us here. This novel is not only breathtaking, but also profoundly moving as Orange assembles a chorus of characters whose collective narrative disrupts and expands our literary landscape. The breadth and scope of this novel are matched only by the fierce and relentless intelligence that Orange brings to his characters, who despite tragedy, heartbreak, and loss, reside in a remarkable world of hard-earned grace.”

The two PEN/Hemingway runners-up are Akwaeke Emezi for Freshwater (Grove) and Ling Ma for Severance (Macmillan). Two writers will receive an Honorable Mention: Meghan Kenny for The Driest Season (W.W. Norton) and Nico Walker for Cherry (Knopf). Runners-up and Honorable Mentions each receive a Residency Fellowship at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming.

Read the press release here »

 

History

Previous Winners

2018 Weike Wang for Chemistry

2017 Yaa Gyasi for Homegoing

2016 Ottessa Moshfegh for Eileen

2015 Arna Bontemps Hemenway for Elegy on Kinderklavier

2014 NoViolet Bulawayo for We Need New Names

2013 Kevin Powers for The Yellow Birds

2012 Teju Cole for Open City

2011 Brando Skyhorse for The Madonnas of Echo Park

2010 Brigid Pasulka for A Long Long Time Ago and Essentially True

2009 Michael Dahlie for A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Living

2008 Joshua Ferris for Then We Came to the End

2007 Ben Fountain for Brief Encounters with Che Guevara

2006 Yiyun Li for A Thousand Years of Good Prayers

2005 Chris Abani for Graceland

2004 Jennifer Haigh for Mrs. Kimble

2003 George Brownstein for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Apt. 3W

2002 Justin Cronin for Mary and O’Neil

2001 Akhil Sharma for An Obedient Father

2000 Jhumpa Lahiri for Interpreter of Maladies

1999 Rosina Lipini for Homestead

1998 Charlotte Bacon for A Private State

1997 Ha Jin for Ocean of Words

1996 Chang-rae Lee for Native Speaker

1995 Susan Power for The Grass Dancer

1994 Dagobert Gilb for The Magic of Blood

1993 Edward P. Jones for Lost in the City

1992 Louis Begley for Wartime Lies

1991 Bernard Cooper for Maps to Anywhere

1990 Mark Richard for The Ice at the Bottom of the World

1989 Jane Hamilton for The Book of Ruth

1988 Lawrence Thornton for Imagining Argentina

1987 Mary Ward Brown for Tongues of Flame

1986 Alan V. Hewat for Lady’s Time

1985 Josephine Humphreys for Dreams of Sleep

1984 Joan Chase for During the Reign of the Queen of Persia

1983 Bobbie Ann Mason for Shiloh and Other Stories

1982 Marilynne Robinson for Housekeeping

1981 Joan Silber for Household Words

1980 Alan Saperstein for Mom Kills Kids and Self

1979 Reuben Bercovitch for Hasen

1978 Darcy O’Brien for A Way of Life, Like Any Other

1977 Renata Adler for Speedboat

1976 Loyd Little for Parthian Shot

 

 

ELIGIBILITY AND SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

Who is Eligible

Eligible:

  • PLEASE NOTE: This prize honors debut novels.
  • The candidate’s first (and only the first) novel must have been published by a U.S. trade publisher in the relevant calendar year. Publishers may submit galleys or bound manuscripts for consideration if the book is not yet published.
  • Authors of the work must be U.S. residents or U.S. citizens.
  • There are no restrictions on the candidate’s age or on the style of his or her work as long as it is fiction.

NOT Eligible:

  • Self-published books are not eligible.
How to Submit
  • PEN will only accept submissions from publishers or literary agents. One need not be a Member of PEN to submit. Authors may not submit their own book for this award. 
  • Please download the Declaration of Eligibility here. Complete all fields and have a company executive sign in order to confirm the book’s eligibility. If eligible, please upload this document along with the rest of your application here
  • Each submission is $85*. If you would like to pay by check, please enter CHECK in the coupon code field at checkout. Checks should be made out to PEN American Center. Please also submit a verified email address on the submission form; your order cannot be processed without an email address, as this info will be used to later contact you regarding the shipments of your submission. Please note that submission fees are not refundable.  
  • Once you have completed the online submission form, mail one copy of the candidate’s book to the address below. Please note that we also accept galleys and bound manuscripts.

    PEN/Hemingway Award
    PEN America
    588 Broadway, Suite 303
    New York, NY 10012

  • Once the submitted book is received and reviewed for eligibility by PEN, you will be contacted by [email protected] and asked to ship one copy of the book to each of our awards judges. Please add [email protected] to your safe sender list.

*Submission fees may be waived for publishers whose annual net sales are less than $2 million. In order to have your dues waived, please have a company official write a letter on company letterhead stating that your press’ annual net sales are less than $2 million. Please send this letter as an attachment (.doc or .pdf) to [email protected]. Once received, you will be provided with a coupon code to use at check-out in order to have your submission fees waived. One fee waiver may be used for all 2020 PEN Awards; you do not need to submit a separate fee waiver for each award.