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. The Award aims to preserve the novel as an art form and to support the longevity of the writer’s literary career. The winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize intended to allow significant time and resources with which to pursue a subsequent work of fiction.
All winners, finalists, and longlisters for this award are eligible to receive PEN America’s official emblems. If you are a publisher and interested in obtaining PEN America’s award emblem, please write to [email protected]. For more information, please visit our FAQ page.
Submissions are now closed and will reopen in April 2024 for books published in the 2024 calendar year.
To a debut novel of exceptional literary merit by an American author.
Judges: Gina Apostol, Oscar Cásares, Matthew Salesses
Calling For a Blanket Dance, Oscar Hokeah (Algonquin Books)
From the judges’ citation: “The world woven by Oscar Hokeah in Calling for a Blanket Dance is seamed with heartbreak and tragedy on resistance’s loom: thus, this story of interlaced Kiowa, Cherokee, and Mexican lives is ultimately one of triumph—not only the triumph of art but of humanity. We see the protagonist Ever Geimausaddle through the shifting lenses of intergenerational memory: we hear voices of pain, betrayal, humor, loss, goodwill, and above all love. There is much in our current world to bereave, to resist, and to change. With writers like Oscar Hokeah, we, his readers and audience, will also find the stories that bind us if we listen to his art’s call.”
Activities of Daily Living, Lisa Hsiao Chen (W. W. Norton & Company)
Shutter, Ramona Emerson (Soho Crime)
Calling For a Blanket Dance, Oscar Hokeah (Algonquin Books)
Little Rabbit, Alyssa Songsiridej (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Which Side Are You On, Ryan Lee Wong (Catapult)
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
- The work must be a candidate’s absolute first novel and published by a U.S. trade publisher between January 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023. The writer may have previously published books in other genres.
- Eligible books must be written by a single, living author.
- Publishers may submit galleys or manuscripts for consideration if the book is not yet published.
- Candidates must be U.S. residents and/or citizens permanently residing in the United States.
- There are no restrictions on the candidate’s age or on the style of their work as long as it is a full-length work of fiction.
- If you submit a book for this award, you may not submit it for any additional PEN America Literary Award, with the exception of the PEN Open Book Award. Please note that the PEN/Faulkner Award is not considered a PEN America Literary Award.
- All submitted books must be published by a trade or academic publisher between January 1 and December 31 in the applicable year. Self-published books are ineligible for the PEN America Literary Awards.
- Books with more than one original author are ineligible for the PEN America Literary Awards.
- PEN America will only accept submissions from publishers or literary agents. Authors may not submit their own books.
- On the submission form, please select the award you are submitting to.
- Submissions of a book to multiple awards is allowed only in the case of the PEN Open Book Award. Please complete a separate submission for this award if applicable.
- Please submit verified email addresses on the submission form. Your order cannot be processed without an email address. Additional contacts are required so that we may be in contact directly if an author or translator is selected as a longlister, finalist, and/or winner.
- Upload a PDF file of the galley or final manuscript on the book submissions form. Book award submissions will be read as PDF files. Please upload the file saved as BOOKTITLE_AUTHORNAME. For the judges’ convenience, please upload a book file WITHOUT watermarks. Each book file will be kept confidentially between the Literary Awards team and the awards judges. Please note that if a book is longlisted, PEN America may request a physical copy be sent to the judging panel.
- Upload a high-resolution book jacket photo. This may be used later if the book is longlisted, a finalist, or a winner.
- Each submission is $85. Submission fees are not refundable. Please note that all payments must be made via the submission form.
- Submission fees may be waived for publishers whose annual net sales are less than $2 million. You may request an exemption here—this form asks for a letter on company letterhead stating that the press’s annual net sales are less than $2 million. Do not submit your title before requesting your fee exemption, as the Literary Awards Team will provide you with an alternative submission method.
- Once the submitted book is received and reviewed for eligibility by PEN America, it will be passed along to the judges. Please add [email protected] to your address book, as it will be the main point of contact from PEN America.