NEW YORK—PEN America named Jean Guerrero winner of the $10,000 PEN/FUSION Prize for her unpublished manuscript “Crux” at the annual PEN Literary Awards Ceremony tonight in New York.

“Crux” is a cross-border memoir about Guerrero’s quest to understand her father, an immigrant from Mexico she grew up believing was schizophrenic. Fleeing alleged CIA mind control experiments, he travels across three continents. Rooted in fact-based research, the author—a journalist at San Diego’s NPR and PBS affiliate—explores alternative explanations for her father’s “psychic odyssey,” spanning the scientific and the spiritual. Her search for truth leads her to Mexico City, where she struggles to reconcile her two cultures. “Crux” is about both the healing and destructive power of storytelling.

“While many migration memoirs focus on national and cultural borders, Guerrero—born to a Mexican father and Puerto Rican mother—treats those elements as almost implicit, broadening the exploration,” write judges Marie Arana, Manuel Gonzalez, and Johnny Temple in their citation for the award. “By honoring the profound complexities of the human spirit and psyche, Guerrero shows us how the discussion of crossing borders can be enriched by expanding beyond the concepts of nation and culture.”

Underwritten by FUSION television network, the PEN/FUSION Emerging Writers Prize is an annual award, conferred for the first time in 2015, to recognize a promising writer under age 35 for an unpublished work of nonfiction that addresses a global or multicultural issue. The award carries a $10,000 purse to assist the winning writer in continuing his or her literary endeavors and finding a publisher for the work.

Runners-up for the prize include Victoria Blanco for “Visions of Oasis”; Laurel Fantauzzo for “Archipelago Sleepovers”; and Jaclyn Moyer for “The Girl Outside My Window”.

The PEN/FUSION Award is the first of five PEN Literary Awards to be announced live at the Ceremony in New York tonight. The PEN Open Book Award, PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award, and highly anticipated PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction will be announced as the evening wears on.

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. With the help of its partners, supporters, and judges, PEN conferred 19 distinct awards in 2016 totaling nearly $200,000. A complete list of 2016 winners is available at


Founded in 1922, PEN America is an association of 4,400 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 Morris, Director of Literary Programs: [email protected],  (646) 779. 4824
Sarah Edkins, Communications Manager: [email protected], (646) 779.4830