NEW YORK—PEN American Center, the largest branch of the world’s leading literary and human rights organization, announced today the winners of the 2014 PEN Literary Awards. This year’s recipients include, among others, acclaimed poet Frank Bidart for his body of work, Tony Award-winning playwright David Rabe for his contribution to American drama, and journalist and cultural critic James Wolcott for his collection of essays. The awards also honor new literary voices, including Nina McConigley for her debut short story collection and Laura Marks, who will receive the inaugural award honoring an emerging dramatist. The Literary Awards Ceremony will be held on Monday, September 29, 2014, at The New School’s Auditorium at 66 West 12th Street in New York City. The complete list of award recipients can be found below.

For the first time this year, the winner for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction ($25,000), chosen by judges Charles Bock, Jonathan Dee, Fiona Maazel, and Karen Shepard, will be announced live at the Awards Ceremony in September. Finalists for the award include Anthony Marra for A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth), Saïd Sayrafiezadeh for Brief Encounters with the Enemy (The Dial Press), Ian Stansel for Everybody’s Irish (FiveChapters Books), Shawn Vestal for Godforsaken Idaho (Little A/New Harvest), and Hanya Yanagihara for The People in the Trees (Doubleday).

“Celebrating the written word is an essential part of defending it,” said PEN President Peter Godwin, “and it is through PEN’s literary awards that we continue to honor some of the most exceptional books and bodies of work that free expression makes possible. We are so grateful to our awards judges, all of whom are writers or literary figures themselves. The care they have taken in the judging process is reflected in their final selections. This year’s award winners include both emerging and distinguished writers and cover a spectrum of genres. PEN is proud to recognize the achievements of these diverse literary voices.”

Alice Quinn, Chair of PEN’s Literary Awards, added, “The judges of the distinguished annual PEN awards adapted to a new schedule this year, established to highlight first a longlist of nominees, then a shortlist, and now the announcement of the winners. Each fresh look at the achievements of the candidates involved a greater commitment of time and discerning focus on the part of the 48 judges. Everyone at PEN, particularly the members of the Literary Awards Committee, is hugely grateful for all this hard work. The new process holds many more books aloft throughout the summer months, and the citations, as always, are superb—both a great pleasure to read and a useful guide for readers seeking excellence in all the categories of writing honored.”

PEN will announce the winner of the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction ($25,000), chosen by judges E.L. Doctorow, Edwidge Danticat, and Zadie Smith, in early September.

For over 50 years, the PEN Literary Awards have honored and introduced some of the most outstanding voices in literature across such diverse genres as fiction, poetry, biography, children’s literature, science writing, translation, and drama.This year, with the help of its partners, supporters, and judges, PEN will confer 18 distinct awards, fellowships, grants, and prizes, awarding nearly $150,000 to writers, editors, and translators.

PEN will be accepting submissions for its 2015 Awards from September 1 through October 31. For a list of all 2015 PEN Awards and information about submission guidelines, please visit


PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, Founded by Barbara Kingsolver ($25,000): To an author of an unpublished novel that addresses issues of social justice. The prize also includes a publishing contract with Algonquin Books. 

Judges: Terry McMillan, Nancy Pearl, and Kathy Pories

Winner: And West is West, Ron Childress

PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000): For a book of essays published in 2013 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem the essay form imparts to literature. 

Judges: Geoff Dyer, Stanley Fish, Ariel Levy, and Cheryl Strayed

WinnerCritical Mass (Doubleday), James Wolcott

PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award ($10,000): For a book of literary nonfiction on the subject of the physical or biological sciences published in 2013. 

Judges: Akiko Busch, Rivka Galchen, and Eileen Pollack

Winner: High Price (Harper), Dr. Carl Hart

PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Awards ($7,500 and $2,500): Three awards which honor a Master American Dramatist, American Playwright in Mid-Career, and Emerging American Playwright. This is the inaugural year of the Award for an Emerging American Playwright. 

Judges: John Lithgow, Elizabeth Streb, and Maria Tucci

Master American Dramatist
David Rabe

American Playwright in Mid-Career ($7,500)
Donald Margulies

Emerging American Playwright ($2,500)
Laura Marks

PEN Open Book Award ($5,000): For an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2013. 

Judges: Catherine Chung, Randa Jarrar, and Monica Youn

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

PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000): For a distinguished biography published in 2013. 

Judges: James Atlas, Lisa Cohen, and Wendy Gimbel

Winner: Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Linda Leavell 

PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): To honor a nonfiction book on the subject of sports published in 2013. 

Judges: Joel Drucker, Chad Harbach, and Jackie MacMullan

Winner: League of Denial (Crown Archetype), Mark Fainaru-Wada & Steve Fainaru

PEN/Steven Kroll Award for Picture Book Writing ($5,000): To a writer for an exceptional story illustrated in a picture book published in 2013. 

Judges: Mac Barnett, Ted Lewin, and Elizabeth Winthrop

Winner: The King of Little Things (Peachtree Publishers), Bil Lepp

PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry ($5,000): To a poet whose distinguished and growing body of work to date represents a notable and accomplished presence in American literature. 

Judges: Peg Boyers, Toi Derricotte, and Rowan Ricardo Phillips

Winner: Frank Bidart

PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship ($5,000): To an author of children’s or young-adult fiction, who has published at least two books, to complete a book-length work-in-progress. 

Judges: Kathi Appelt, Johanna Hurwitz, and Padma Venkatraman

Winner: The Taste of Elephant Tears, Linda Oatman High

PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): To a writer whose body of work represents an exceptional contribution to the field.

Judges: Kostya Kennedy, David Rosenthal, and John Schulian

Winner: Dave Anderson

PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000): For a book-length translation of poetry into English published in 2013. 

Judge: Kimiko Hahn

Winner: Diaries of Exile by Yannis Ritsos (Archipelago), Karen Emmerich & Edmund Keeley

PEN Translation Prize ($3,000): For a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2013.

Judges: Ann Goldstein, Becka McKay, and Katherine Silver

Winner: Autobiography of a Corpse by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (New York Review Books), Joanne Turnbull & Nikolai Formozov

PEN/Edward and Lily Tuck Award for Paraguayan Literature ($3,000): To a living author of a major work of Paraguayan literature not yet translated into English.

Judges: Idra Novey, Yvette Siegert, and Mark Statman.

Winner: En Tacumbú (El Lector),  Raúl Silva Alonso

PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants ($2,000-$4,000): To support the translation of book-length works into English. 

Judges: Esther Allen, Barbara Epler, Sara Khalili, Michael F. Moore*, Lorin Stein, Lauren Wein (*Voting Chair of the PEN/Heim Translation Fund Advisory Council)

Winners: To be announced in August


The 2014 PEN Literary Awards are made possible through the generous support of PEN’s many donors:, Kathleen Beckett and Steven Kroll, the family of Robert W. Bingham, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel and Carl Spielvogel, ESPN, Harrison Ford, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, The Kaplen Foundation, Barbara Kingsolver, Priscilla and Michael Henry Heim, Michael Moritz and Harriet Heyman, Phyllis Naylor, the Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater, the Estate of Rochelle Ratner, Dr. Edward O. Wilson and the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, James and Cathy Stone, Edward and Lily Tuck, Hunce Voelcker, and Jacqueline Bograd Weld and Rodman L. Drake.


Founded in 1922, PEN American Center is the largest of the 145 centers of PEN International, the world’s leading human rights and literary organization. PEN works to advance literature, to defend free expression, and to foster international literary fellowship. Its 2,000 distinguished members carry on the achievements in literature and the advancement of human rights of such past members as Langston Hughes, Arthur Miller, Susan Sontag, and John Steinbeck.

Paul W. Morris, 212-334-1660 x 108, [email protected]

Arielle Anema, 212-334-1660 x 126, [email protected]