PEN Literary Award Winners Announced
The 2014 PEN Literary Awards were announced Wednesday, with playwright David Rabe and critic James Wolcott among the winners.
The awards are given annually by the PEN American Center, a branch of the literary and human rights organization PEN International. But, for the first time this year, two of the most important prizes, each worth $25,000, will come after the majority of awards are announced.
The prize for debut fiction will be unveiled at a ceremony held by the organization on Sept. 29 in an effort to bring more attention to the finalists and the event itself, according to Paul W. Morris, director of membership, marketing and literary awards.
The award for distinguished living American author will be disclosed in early September to give the judges more time to read through each finalist’s body of work.
Among the announced winners, Mr. Wolcott won $10,000 for his collection of essays “Critical Mass.” In the judges’ citation, they praised the writer’s “panoramic and encyclopedic variety.”
Mr. Rabe won the Master American Dramatist award, which comes not with a cash prize but a rare book from Bauman Rare Books. The Tony-winning playwright is well-known for his 1984 “Hurlyburly” and “Sticks and Bones,” which won a Tony in 1972.
Donald Margulies won the $7,500 award for American Playwright in Mid-Career. Author of “Dinner With Friends” (which won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Drama) and “Sight Unseen,” Mr. Margulies has, according to the judges, “explored the strains on human relationships wrought by ambition, self-doubt, the loss of integrity, the loss of love, the passage of time, and the persistence of traumatic memory.”
Each award is funded by an external patron. The Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater is responsible for the theater awards and for the first time, it included $2,500 for an emerging playwright. Laura Marks, author of “Mine” and “Bethany” was the inaugural winner.
The $5,000 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry went to Frank Bidart, whose recent “Metaphysical Dog” “seems to many poets the best book he has ever written,” the judges wrote. The $5,000 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing was given to Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru for “League of Denial,” an investigation into brain injuries caused by football.