PEN America Literary Awards Open Book Award

The PEN Open Book Award, formerly the Beyond Margins Awards, invites book submissions by authors of color, published in the United States during the applicable calendar year. The Open Book Award was created by PEN America’s Open Book Committee, a group committed to racial and ethnic diversity within the literary and publishing communities. Works of fiction, literary nonfiction, biography/memoir, poetry, and other works of literary character are strongly preferred.

Beginning in the 2021 award cycle, the award will confer a $10,000 prize upon an author of color who has, prior to the submitted book’s publication, not received wide media attention. The winner additionally receives a fully-funded artist residency at Civitella Ranieri, located in a 15th century castle in rural Umbria, Italy. 

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 open from June 15 – August 1, 2024 for books published in the 2024 calendar year.

Featured Winner

To an exceptional book-length work of any literary genre by an author of color.

Judges: Jenn Baker, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Nina McConigley, Erika L. Sanchez

The Black Period, Hafizah Augustus Geter (Random House) 

From the judges’ citation: “The Black Period is multiple things at once: an astute reflection of the author as witness and narrator to the universal, a deeply personal and lovingly rendered tome, as well as a mirror of intersectional lives and experiences deserving of joy and visibility. Weighing the past and the present, weaving histories and livelihoods across continents and cultures, Hafizah Augustus Geter’s lyrical prose alongside the realistic portraiture by Tyrone Geter deftly create a book that is brilliant, bold, and genre-defying.”

2023 Finalists

Shutter, Ramona Emerson (Soho Crime)

The Black Period, Hafizah Augustus Geter (Random House) 

Gorgoneion, Casey Rocheteau (Noemi Press)

All the Flowers Kneeling, Paul Tran (Penguin Books)

Last Summer on State Street, Toya Wolfe (William Morrow & Company)


Previous Winners

(This award was formerly called the PEN Beyond Margins Award.)

2022 Divya Victor for Curb (Nightboat Books)

2021 Asako Serizawa for Inheritors (Doubleday)

2020 Brandon Shimoda for The Grave on the Wall (City Lights Books)

2019 Nafissa Thompson-Spires for The Heads of the Colored People (Atria)

2018 Alexis Okeowo, A Moonless for Starless Sky (Hachette)

2017 Helen Oyeyemi for What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours (Riverhead Books/Penguin Random House)

2016 Rick Barot for Chord (Sarabande Books)

2015 Claudia Rankine for Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press)

2014 Nina McConigley for Cowboys and East Indians (FiveChapter Books)
Ruth Ellen Kocher, domina Un/blued (Tupelo Press)

2013 Gina Apostol for Gun Dealers’ Daughter (W.W. Norton)
Kevin Young, The Grey Album (Graywolf Press)

2012 Siddhartha Deb forThe Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India (Faber & Faber)

2011 Manu Joseph for Serious Man (W. W. Norton & Company)

2010 Sherwin Bitsui, Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press)
Robin D.G. Kelley, Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original (Free Press)
Canyon Sam, Sky Train: Tibetan Women on the Edge of History (University of Washington Press)

2009 Uwem Akpan, Say You’re One of Them (Back Bay Books)
Juan Felipe Herrera, Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems (University of Arizona Press)
Lily Hoang, Changing (Fairy Tale Review Press)

2008 Chris Abani, Song for Night (Akashic Books)
Amiri Baraka, Tales of the Out and the Gone (Akashic Books)
Frances Hwang, Transparency (Back Bay Books)
Naeem Murr, The Perfect Man (Random House Trade Paperbacks)
Joseph M. Marshall III, The Day the World Ended at Little Big Horn (Penguin Books)

2007 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun (Anchor)
Ernest Hardy, Blood Beats, Vol. 1 (Redbone Press)
Harryette Mullen, Recyclopedia (Graywolf Press)
Alberto Ríos, Theater of Night (Copper Canyon Press)

2006 Richard Blanco, Directions to the Beach of the Dead (University of Arizona Press)
Andrew Lam, Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora (Heyday)
Ed-Bok Lee, Real Karaoke People (New Rivers Press)
Caryl Phillips, Dancing in the Dark (Vintage)
Jennifer Tseng, The Man With My Face (The Asian American Writers’ Workshop)

2005 Faith Adiele, Meeting Faith: The Forest Journals of a Black Buddhist Nun (W. W. Norton & Company)
Raquel Cepeda, ed., And It Don’t Stop: The Best American Hip-Hop Journalism of the Last 25 Years (Faber & Faber)
Lan Samantha Chang, Inheritance (W. W. Norton & Company)
Lolita Hernandez, Autopsy of an Engine, and Other Stories from the Cadillac Plant (Coffee House Press)
Ishle Yi Park, The Temperature of This Water (Kaya/Muae)

2004 Laila Halaby, West of the Jordan: A Novel (Beacon Press)
Suki Kim, The Interpreter (Picador)
Nasdijj, The Boy and the Dog Are Sleeping (Ballantine Books)
Willie Perdomo, Smoking Lovely (Rattapallax Press)
April Reynolds, Knee-Deep in Wonder: A Novel (Metropolitan Books)

2002 Meena Alexander, Illiterate Heart (Triquarterly Books)
Luis Francia, Eye of the Fish (Kaya Press)
Joy Harjo, A Map to the Next World: Poetry and Tales (W.W. Norton & Co.)
Victor LaValle, Slapboxing with Jesus: Stories (Vintage Books)
Nelly Rosario, Song of the Water Saints (Pantheon Books)


  • A candidate’s work must have been published in the United States by a trade publisher between January 1  and December 31 of the applicable calendar year.
  • Eligible books must be written by a single, living author in English.
  • The PEN Open Book Award is open to authors of color who have not, prior to the submitted book’s publication, received wide media coverage. If you have a question regarding the author’s media coverage, please email [email protected].
  • Works of fiction, literary nonfiction, biography/memoir, poetry, and other works of literary character are strongly preferred.
  • U.S. residency or citizenship is not required.
  • Self-published books are not eligible.

Submission Guidelines

  • 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.