NOTE: Tickets to the Mar. 2 Literary Awards may be purchased here

(NEW YORK)– Marking the 60th anniversary of its first literary prize, PEN America today announced the longlists of 100+ authors and translators who were selected in 11 categories for the 2023 prizes, including the novel, short story collection, poetry, science writing, essay, biography, translation. They represent both extraordinary new voices and legends of literature. 

Among this year’s nominees across categories are: Chris Abani, Hilton Als, Jessamine Chan, Nick Drnaso, Ramona Emerson, Jonathan Escoffery, Percival Everett, Jhumpa Lahiri, Ada Limón, Leila Mottley, Sequoia Nagamatsu, David Sedaris, Morgan Talty, Judith Thurman, and Paul Tran. The finalists will be announced in the coming weeks. The winners in each category will be celebrated on the evening of March 2 as their names are announced live, on stage, at New York City’s Town Hall at PEN America’s annual Literary Awards event that past host Seth Meyers has dubbed “the Oscars for books.” A total prize purse worth $350,000 will be awarded that night.

The ceremony features dramatic readings and other performances by Broadway and Hollywood stars, and the indelible words of beloved authors as they are recognized by their peers. Tickets go on sale at noon today.

The longlists, finalists, and winners are selected by 65 peer judges whose reading and deliberations take place across time zones from Brooklyn to Beirut, Spain to Seoul to Seattle. The honorees represent diversity among gender, race, sexual orientation and geography, including translators working in more than a dozen languages from Arabic and Indonesian to Persian and Spanish. 

Publishers and agents submitted 1,744 entries, with half of those on the longlists coming from independent and university presses. The selected works connect readers with vital and powerful stories that writers turn their gaze on: displacement and immigration, racial justice, family dynamics, humans’ evolving relationship to the natural world, a paranormal horror story about a Navajo woman, a retelling of the history of Western medicine, the Rwandan genocide, and a personal narrative of gender transition. 

Among this year’s judges are Lauren Groff, Jill Lepore, John McWhorter, Matthew Salesses, and Erika L. Sánchez.

View all the nominees and judges across categories here 

Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf, chief of literary programs at PEN America, said: “For 60 years, writers and translators selected for PEN America’s awards have brought us closer to unfamiliar lives and experiences and opened our minds to ideas and subjects we may not have realized could fascinate and instruct us. This year offered even more surprises and joy for readers. Populated by ancestors and ghosts, activists and lovers, criminal minds and celestial bodies, the books on the 2023 longlist distill wisdom and beauty from the past, upend our present contradictions and conflicts, and ask us to imagine a future where connections can override fears.”

These exceptional and probing writers circling the globe for truths about humanity include four nominated for more than one award:

*Shutter by Ramona Emerson, longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award and the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel

*If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery, longlisted for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection and the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award

*Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty, longlisted for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection and the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award

*Solito by Javier Zamora, longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award and the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction

Two significant multi-genre awards: the PEN Open Book Award and the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, include authors who invite readers to engage with the unexpected and expand their points of reference. 

This year’s longlist for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, a $75,000 prize honoring a groundbreaking book of the year of any genre, highlights some of the most original and memorable books published in the past year, notable for the breadth of styles and career stages represented. The list includes graphic novelist Nick Drnaso, essayist Hilton Als, the New Yorker writer; first-time fiction author Noor Naga, and veteran novelist Percival Everett. Everett, whose first novel was published in 1983, was longlisted in 2022 for The Trees.  

As the publishing industry continues to come to grips with a persistent lack of racial and ethnic diversity among employees and authors, the PEN Open Book Award longlist showcases writers of color whose previous work has not received wide media attention. Ten writers of short stories, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction—whose work is expanding the literary canon—were longlisted for this year’s $10,000 prize.

Among these longlisted authors are Hafizah Augustus Geter (The Black Period); Rio Cortez (Golden Ax); Ramona Emerson (Shutter); Glenis Redmond (The Listening Skin: Poems), Casey Rocheteau (Gorgoneion); Paul Tran (All the Flowers Kneeling); Aljandro Varela (The Town of Babylon); Joshua Whitehead (Making Love with the Land); Toya Wolfe (Last Summer on State Street), and Javier Zamora (Solito).

Since 1975, the PEN/Hemingway Award has recognized outstanding debut novels and identified significant new writers including Marilynne Robinson (1981), Jhumpa Lahiri (2000), and Yiyun Li (2006). Author Ha Jin, who won the award in 1997, spoke at a forum with other PEN/Hemingway winners about its significance: I think the PEN Hemingway Award is different from others [prizes] because it is given for the first fiction. So as a result, people pay attention more… Not just the winner, but also the finalists. A lot of finalists over the years became important writers – George Saunders, Jennifer Haigh, many of them.”

Nominated authors include Melissa Chadburn (A Tiny Upward Shove); Jessamine Chan (The School for Good Mothers); Joseph Han (Nuclear Family), Oscar Hokeah (Calling for a Blanket Dance), among others.

The PEN Translation Prize, the first of the prizes to be presented 60 years ago, this year longlisted translations of books by authors from 20 different countries from Bolivia and Belarus to Indonesia and Iran. These books represent the finest translations available to readers today, from a remarkable range of languages including Arabic, Belarusian, Danish, French, Galacian, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Persian, Portuguese, and Spanish.

“Few of us are aware of the level of creative expression, insight and subtlety that goes into translating a book,” said Donica Bettanin, program director of literary awards at PEN America. “When we pick up a book originally written in a language not our own we don’t even think of the complexities of meanings and metaphors in different cultures that form the bedrock of the translator’s genius. This award now for 60 years heralds the often-unseen but vital work of translators worldwide. Without their dedication to craft, our literary world would be so much the poorer.”

Celebrating the art of the essay, the $15,000 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award recognizes an exceptional collection of work by a seasoned writer. The 2023 longlist reflects the great versatility and energy of the essay form, showcasing writers at the peak of their powers including Jhumpa Lahiri (Translating Myself and Others); David Sedaris (Happy-Go-Lucky), and Judith Thurman (A Left-Handed Woman), from her New Yorker essays and profiles. 

The $10,000 PEN/E.O Wilson Literary Science Writing Award recognizes literary excellence in a book about the physical or biological sciences that communicates complex scientific concepts to a lay audience. Among the longlist honorees this year are Rachel Gross (Vagina Obscura); Sara Maning Peskin  (A Molecule Away From Madness); Ed Yong (An Immense World), and Dhun Sehna (The Wine Dark Sea Within: A Turbulent History of Blood). 

Ten biographers were longlisted for the $5000 PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award recognizing exceptional literary, narrative, and artistic merit, based on scrupulous research. The writers and their subjects include Tomiko Brown-Nagin on civil rights champion Constance Baker Motley; Dan Charnas on hip-hop producer J Dilla; Rich Cohen on dealmaker, presidential advisor and raconteur Herbie Cohen; Beverly Gage on J. Edgar Hoover, and Lyndall Gordon on Emily Hale, T.S. Eliot’s hidden muse, among others.

The $10,000 John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction recognizes titles possessing notable literary merit and critical perspective that illuminates important contemporary issues. The longlisted books examine Afghan refugees, how higher education unwittingly fostered the divides plaguing society, South Africa’s racial reckoning, the Cold War, an exploration of the American South, and an investigation of the billion-dollar timber black market in North America’s forests. The nominated authors are: Matthieu Aikins (The Naked Don’t Fear the Water: An Underground Journey with Afghan Refugees); Lyndsie Bourgon (Tree Thieves: Crime and Survival in North America’s Woods); Eve Fairbanks (The Inheritors: An Intimate Portrait of South Africa’s Racial Reckoning); Kelly Lytle Hernandez (Bad Mexicans: Race, Empire, and Revolution in the Borderlands); Imani Perry (South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the South of a Nation); Martin Sixsmith (Inside the Cold War Mind); Javier Zamora (Solito); Steven W. Thrasher (The Viral Underclass: The Human Toll When Inequality and Disease Collide), and Nell McShane Wulfhart (The Great Stewardess Rebellion: How Women Launched a Workplace Revolution at 30,000 Feet).

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057