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Summer Reading from the 2017 PEN America Literary Award Winners

Since 1963, the PEN America Literary Awards have honored many of the most outstanding voices in literature across diverse genres—and the 2017 Literary Awards were no exception. From a memoir on seeking a missing father, to reportage on groups fighting the NCAA, to moving short story collections with lasting power, this year’s award-winning works are testaments to the great body of work that today’s writers are producing.

With summer in full swing and readers looking for their next summer read, we are pleased to present here excerpts and interviews from this year’s inspiring lineup of award winners. Whether you’re relaxing on the beach or cooling off indoors, these highlights offer a diverse assortment of prose and poetry that is sure to please anyone looking for summer reading recommendations.

Submissions and nominations for the 2018 PEN Literary Awards are now open and will be accepted through August 15, 2017.


Book Excerpts

from The Girls in My Town

With the fortune-teller’s words echoing in my head, I told myself to fight like a warrior. Screaming felt good. I screamed until my throat became sandpaper. More

from Evicted

What the judge was saying, in essence, was: We all agree that you were poor and scared when you did this violent, hurtful thing. More

from Angel of Oblivion

As soon as she starts moving, I follow her. She is my queen bee and I am her drone. The scent of her clothes reaches my nose… More

from Black Elk

Wind Cave in the Black Hills was that route to the underworld; at least, so said the medicine men, and Black Elk did not question them. More

from Patient H.M.

Memories make us. Everything we are is everything we were. This has always been true and is so obvious that it hardly needs to be said. More

from The Return

And the fathers must have known, having once themselves been sons, that the ghostly presence of their hand will remain throughout the years… More