Updated with award winners

(NEW YORK)— PEN America announced today the cancellation of its annual Literary Awards ceremony, and released the names of its 2024 award finalists and winners.

It was a very difficult decision not to move forward with a public celebration to recognize this year’s honorees, according to PEN America’s Literary Programming Chief Officer Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf.

“We greatly respect that writers have followed their consciences, whether they chose to remain as nominees in their respective categories or not,” said Rosaz Shariyf. “We regret that this unprecedented situation has taken away the spotlight from the extraordinary work selected by esteemed, insightful and hard-working judges across all categories. As an organization dedicated to freedom of expression and writers, our commitment to recognizing and honoring outstanding authors and the literary community is steadfast.”

The five finalists and a winning title for each award were selected by the judges during their final deliberation, which took place before some authors shared their decision to withdraw from consideration as finalists. Winners who remained under consideration for their respective award will receive their cash prizes. This year the winner of the 2024 PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel is Javier Fuentes for Countries of Origin (Pantheon) and the winner of the 2024/PEN Award for Poetry in Translation is Patty Crane for her translation from Swedish of The Blue House: Collected Works of Tomas Tranströmer (Copper Canyon Press) by Tomas Tranströmer. We thank the judges for their selection and congratulate both winners for their outstanding work.

No book award winners will be announced if the selected winning title was no longer under consideration for the award. For the cash prizes that could not be conferred, a decision about how to allocate the funds will be made on a case-by-case basis, according to the specifications of each award contract and the wishes of our generous award underwriters. Of the 61 authors and translators nominated for a book award this cycle, 28 authors chose to withdraw their books from consideration.

Nine of the ten authors recognized as nominees for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award withdrew their work from consideration.

Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Wendy Vanden Heuvel, and Bill Clegg, on behalf of the foundation and the Literary Estate of Jean Stein, provided the following statement: “Jean Stein was a passionate advocate for Palestinian rights who published, supported, and celebrated Palestinian writers and visual artists. While she established the PEN America award in her name to bring attention to and provide meaningful support to writers of the highest literary achievement, we know she would have respected the stance and sacrifice of the writers who have withdrawn from contention this year. To honor their decision the Estate of Jean Stein has directed PEN America to donate the $75,000 award to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.”

Although there will be no ceremony this year, PEN America is honored to recognize the career achievement winners including playwright Tony Kushner for the 2024 PEN/Mike Nichols Writing for Performance Award, Suzanne Jill Levine for the 2024 PEN/Ralph Manheim Award for Translation, playwright and screenwriter Guadalís Del Carmen for the 2024 PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award, and a posthumous award to novelist, critic, and playwright Maryse Condé for the 2024 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature. Condé died on April 2.

Since 1963, the PEN America Literary Awards have honored many of the most outstanding voices in literature across diverse genres, including fiction, poetry,  children’s literature, and drama. With funding from partners, this awards program has annually conferred more than 20 distinct awards, fellowships, grants and prizes totaling almost $350,000 to writers and translators. 

The award ceremony this year was to have taken place April 29th at The Town Hall in New York City

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free 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 pen.org.

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