PEN American Center Announces Shortlists Ahead of June 8 Ceremony

NEW YORK—PEN American Center today announced the shortlists for the 2015 PEN Literary Awards. Among the finalists are Molly Antopol for her debut collection of short stories The UnAmericans (W. W. Norton & Company), Teju Cole for his newest novel Every Day Is for the Thief (Random House) which features his own photographs, Roxane Gay for her debut novel An Untamed State (Black Cat/ Grove Atlantic), Leslie Jamison for her collection of essays The Empathy Exams (Graywolf Press), Claudia Rankine for her book-length poem Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press), and many more.

The complete list of shortlisted titles is available at

“These shortlists represent a literary treasure trove including both beloved and well-known names as well as new writers for whom simply making the list can itself help begin to make a new writing career,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN American Center. “We look forward to spotlighting these titles among our ever-growing community of writers and supporters and will be biting our nails along with the finalists as the judges complete their deliberations between now and the final announcements.”

The winners of most 2015 PEN Literary Awards, including Career Achievements, will be announced on May 13. But as PEN continues to expand its literary awards program and celebrate the diversity of the publishing ecosystem, it will hold the winners of three awards—the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, and the PEN Open Book Award—for live announcement on June 8 at a ceremony honoring all winners in New York.

“As we know, based on last month’s longlist announcement, the deliberation process for the PEN awards is no small task,” said Monique Truong, chair of PEN’s Literary Awards Committee. “The judges certainly had their work cut out for them. Amidst their own writing deadlines and work schedules, they dedicated the time to read, discuss, and debate the nominated books. We are grateful for their thoughtfulness and careful consideration. It is a truly special thing to have one’s work held aloft by a panel of esteemed peers, and we congratulate the finalists on this great distinction.”

For more than 50 years, the PEN Literary Awards have honored many of the most outstanding voices in literature across such diverse fields as fiction, poetry, science writing, essays, sports writing, biography, children’s literature, translation, and drama. With the help of its partners and supporters, PEN will confer 19 distinct awards, fellowships, grants, and prizes in 2015, awarding nearly $150,000 to writers and translators.



PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction ($25,000): To an author whose debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2014—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.

JUDGES: Caroline Fraser, Katie Kitamura, Paul La Farge, and Victor LaValle

The UnAmericans (W. W. Norton & Company), Molly Antopol 
Ruby (Hogarth), Cynthia Bond 
Redeployment (Penguin Press), Phil Klay
The Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Jack Livings 
Love Me Back (Doubleday), Merritt Tierce

PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000): For a book of essays published in 2014 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature.

JUDGES: Diane Johnson, Dahlia Lithwick, Vijay Seshadri, and Mark Slouka

Moral Imagination (Princeton University Press), David Bromwich 
Theater of Cruelty (New York Review Books), Ian Buruma
Loitering (Tin House Books), Charles D’Ambrosio
The Empathy Exams (Graywolf Press), Leslie Jamison 

Limber (Sarabande Books), Angela Pelster

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 2014.

JUDGES: Sue Halpern, Marie Myung-Ok Lee, and Carl Zimmer

War of the Whales (Simon & Schuster), Joshua Horwitz
How We Got to Now (Riverhead Books), Steven Johnson
The Sixth Extinction (Henry Holt and Co.), Elizabeth Kolbert
The Age of Radiance (Scribner), Craig Nelson
Proof (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Adam Rogers

PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction ($10,000): To an author of a distinguished book of general nonfiction possessing notable literary merit and critical perspective and illuminating important contemporary issues which has been published in 2013 or 2014.

JUDGES: Andrew Blechman, Paul Elie, Azadeh Moaveni, Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, and Paul Reyes

Our Declaration (Liveright), Danielle Allen
League of Denial (Crown Archetype), Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru
Five Days at Memorial (Crown), Sheri Fink
The Big Truck That Went By (Palgrave Macmillan), Jonathan M. Katz
This Changes Everything (Simon & Schuster), Naomi Klein

PEN Open Book Award ($5,000): For an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2014.

JUDGES: R. Erica Doyle, W. Ralph Eubanks, and Chinelo Okparanta

An Unnecessary Woman (Grove Press), Rabih Alameddine
Every Day Is for the Thief (Random House), Teju Cole
An Untamed State (Black Cat/ Grove Atlantic),
Roxane Gay Citizen (Graywolf Press), Claudia Rankine
The City Son (Soho Press), Samrat Upadhyay

PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000): For a distinguished biography published in 2014.

JUDGES: Emily Bernard, Nicholas Fox Weber, and Jon Meacham

Rebel Yell (Scribner), S. C. Gwynne
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace (Scribner), Jeff Hobbs
Strange Glory (Alfred A. Knopf), Charles Marsh
The Queen’s Bed (Sarah Crichton Books), Anna Whitelock
Piero’s Light (Pegasus Books), Larry Witham

PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): To honor a nonfiction book on the subject of sports published in 2014.

JUDGES: Rich Cohen, George Dohrmann, and Jonathan Mahler

Boy on Ice (W. W. Norton & Company), John Branch
Black Noon (Thomas Dunne Books), Art Garner
All Fishermen are Liars (Simon & Schuster), John Gierach
Ping-Pong Diplomacy (Scribner), Nicholas Griffin
Deep (Eamon Dolan Books), James Nestor

PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000): For a book-length translation of poetry into English published in 2014.

JUDGE: Ana Božičević 

Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream by Kim Hyesoon (Action Books), translated from the Korean by Don Mee Choi 
I Am the Beggar of the World (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), translated from the Pashto by Eliza Griswold 
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz by Juana Inés de la Cruz (W. W. Norton & Company), translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman 
Breathturn into Timestead by Paul Celan (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), translated from the German by Pierre Joris
Guantanamo by Frank Smith (Les Figues Press), translated from the French by Vanessa Place

PEN Translation Prize ($3,000): For a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2014.

JUDGES: Heather Cleary, Lucas Klein, Tess Lewis, and Allison Markin Powell

The Gray Notebook by Josep Pla (New York Review Books), translated from the Catalan by Peter Bush
The Symmetry Teacher by Andrei Bitov (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), translated from the
Russian by Polly Gannon
Baboon by Naja Marie Aidt (Two Lines Press), translated from the Danish by Denise Newman
Texas: The Great Theft by Carmen Boullosa (Deep Vellum Publishing), translated from the
Spanish by Samantha Schnee
Self-Portrait in Green by Marie NDiaye (Two Lines Press), translated from the French by Jordan Stump


(The following PEN Awards do not have longlists. The winners will be announced on May 13.)

PEN/Fusion Emerging Writers Prize ($10,000): For a promising young writer under the age of 35 for an unpublished work of nonfiction that addresses a global and/or multicultural issue.

JUDGES: John Freeman, Roxane Gay, and Cristina Henríquez

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.

JUDGES: Kathleen Chalfant, Ellen McLaughlin, and Adam Rapp

PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry ($5,000): For an emerging American poet showing promise of further literary achievement.

JUDGES: Marie Howe, Mary Szybist, and Craig Morgan Teicher

PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship ($5,000): For an author of children’s or young-adult fiction to complete a book-length work-in-progress.

JUDGES: Viola Canales, Selene Castrovilla, and Elizabeth Levy

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

JUDGES: Mike Barnicle, Franklin Foer, and Selena Roberts

PEN/Nora Magid Award for Editing ($2,500): For a magazine editor whose high literary taste has, throughout his or her career, contributed significantly to the excellence of the publication he or she edits.

JUDGES: Christopher Castellani, Carmela Ciuraru, and Bill Clegg

PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation: For a translator whose career has demonstrated a commitment to excellence through the body of his or her work.

JUDGES: Selected by the PEN Translation Committee

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

JUDGES:Esther Allen, Mitzi Angel, Peter Blackstock, Howard Goldblatt, Sara Khalili, Michael F. Moore*, Declan Spring, and Alex Zucker (*Voting Chair of the PEN/Heim Advisory Board)


The 2015 PEN Literary Awards are made possible through the generous support of PEN’s many donors:, the family of Robert W. Bingham, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel and Carl Spielvogel, Bernard Malamud, ESPN, Gay Talese, Gerald Weales, Harrison Ford, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, The Kaplen Foundation, Barbara Kingsolver, Priscilla and Michael Henry Heim, 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, the family and friends of Ralph Manheim, Jacqueline Bograd Weld and Rodman L. Drake, and Univision. PEN will begin accepting submissions for its 2016 Awards later this summer. For a list of all 2016 PEN Awards and information about submission guidelines, please visit For questions about any of the awards, write to For questions about the shortlisted titles, upcoming awards announcements, or advertising in the 2015 Ceremony program, please contact Paul W. Morris, PEN’s Director of Literary Programs, at


Founded in 1922, PEN American Center is an association of 4,000 U.S writers working to break down barriers to free expression worldwide. Its 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, Director of Literary Programs: 646-779-4824,
Sarah Edkins, Communications Manager: 646-779-4830,