Founded in 2016, the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award is an annual award which recognizes a book-length work of any genre for its originality, merit, and impact, which has broken new ground by reshaping the boundaries of its form and signaling strong potential for lasting influence. A distinguished panel of judges will nominate candidates internally. The author of the winning book receives a prize of $75,000 and is honored at the annual PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony in New York City.
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’s award seal, please write to [email protected].
Current Cycle: 2020
Honoring books published in 2019.
Awards Ceremony: February 2020
Featured Honoree: Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, 2019 Winner
From the judges’ citation: “In this brilliant debut collection of short stories, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah brings a new voice to old, vexing issues that continue to haunt American life: violence, racism, consumer lust, and more. The stories that form Friday Black combine the real and surreal, the concrete and the mythological, with such awful beauty and power that readers cannot but help question the sincerity of their convictions. Adjei-Brenyah twists the 2015 Charleston church massacre into a horror story of a different order, and the shocking result makes us question why we aren’t shocked more often. The 2012 slaying of Travon Martin forms the basis of another story, one in which murderous rage against black men is transformed into absurd entertainment, making us realize the terrible absurdity of white masculine fear. Adjei-Brenyah displays a cool control over his prose and dialogue while allowing his imagination to abandon constraints and conventions, exploring genetic enhancement, frenzied retail work, and soft friendships. At turns horrifying and funny, tender and savage, these stories stick with you, probing the American psyche and persistently asking more of us.”
2019 Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah for Friday Black (Mariner Books)
ELIGIBILITY AND SUBMISSION GUIDELINES
Please note that candidates for this Award will be nominated internally by a panel of judges. Nominations will not be accepted. Please visit our FAQ page.
- Must be published in the United States.
- May be of any genre (fiction, memoir, essay, general nonfiction, poetry)
- Must possess significant literary merit, illustrate great originality, and possess strong potential for lasting influence.