PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction
The PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction honors a debut novel or book of short stories of exceptional merit published in 2017 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. In addition to a $25,000 prize, the winner receives a one-week residency and honorarium from the Distinguished Visiting Writers Series at the University of Idaho’s MFA Creative Writing Program. All competition honorees receive Residency Fellowships at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming, a retreat for artists and writers.
Weike Wang, Chemistry (knopf)
Winner of the 2018 PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction
Judges: Geraldine Brooks, Chris Castellani, and Elizabeth Strout
The judges praised Chemistry, a first-person narrative of a graduate chemist’s personal and professional indecision, both devastating and liberating, and told almost entirely in the present tense, as a “brilliant book” written in “elliptical prose, spare and clean as bone.”
Weike Wang is a graduate of Harvard University, where she earned her undergraduate degree in chemistry and her doctorate in public health. She received her MFA from Boston University. A “5 Under 35” honoree of the National Book Foundation and a winner of the Whiting Award, Wang currently lives in New York City. Wang joins other notable PEN/Hemingway winners and honorees including Marilynne Robinson, Edward P. Jones, Jhumpa Lahiri, Colson Whitehead, Jennifer Haigh, ZZ Packer, George Saunders, Ha Jin, Junot Díaz, Yiyun Li, Teju Cole, and Ottessa Moshfegh—a four-decade lineage of literary excellence founded in 1976 by Mary Hemingway, the widow of Ernest Hemingway, to honor her late husband and draw attention to first books of fiction. Read the full press release.
Watch the Ceremony
Seán Hemingway, the grandson of Ernest Hemingway, presented the prestigious literary award to Weike Wang on Sunday, April 8, at a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. The ceremony featured readings by the winner and finalists as well as a keynote address by Ricardo Cortes Cruz. The Kennedy Library is the major repository of Ernest Hemingway’s personal papers.
Submissions for the 2019 awards cycle will open on June 1, 2018. Please note that PEN only accepted submissions from publishers or literary agents. Authors were not to submit their own book for this award.
- Eligible titles must be published between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018.
- Authors of the work must be permanent U.S. residents or American citizens.
- Authors are not to submit work for any additional PEN America awards, with the exception of the Open Book Award. (PEN/Faulkner is not considered a PEN America award.)