The PEN/Saul Bellow Award is given biennially to a living American author whose scale of achievement in fiction, over a sustained career, places him or her in the highest rank of American literature. With a prize of $25,000, the PEN/Saul Bellow is one of PEN America’s most prestigious literary awards and is selected by a panel of esteemed authors, including past winners. Past judges have included Philip Roth, George Saunders, and Zadie Smith. This year’s judges are Louise Erdrich, Adam Johnson, and Porochista Khakpour.

Established in 2009 in memory of Saul Bellow, the award commemorates his love of literature and his contribution to American fiction. The winner of the PEN/Malamud Award in 1989, Saul Bellow won many awards during his lifetime. Of Bellow, Martin Amis wrote, “His sentences seem to weigh more than anyone else’s. He is like a force of nature… He breaks all the rules…[T]he people in Bellow’s fiction are real people, yet the intensity of the gaze that he bathes them in, somehow through the particular, opens up into the universal.”

In keeping with his legacy, recipients of the award  demonstrate a profound impact on the landscape of American fiction. Past recipients of the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction include Toni Morrison, Louise Erdrich, E.L. Doctorow, Don DeLillo, Cormac McCarthy, and Philip Roth.