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PEN Open Book Award ($5,000)

The PEN Open Book Award, formerly the Beyond Margins Awards, invites submissions of book-length writings by authors of color, published in the United States during the current calendar year. The Open Book Award was created by PEN American Center’s Open Book Committee, a group committed to racial and ethnic diversity within the literary and publishing communities. The award confers a $5,000 prize upon an author of color. U.S. residency or citizenship is not required. Works of fiction, literary nonfiction, biography/memoir, poetry, and other works of literary character are strongly preferred.

Past winners: Meena Alexander, Luis Francia, Joy Harjo, Victor LaValle, Nelly Rosario, Laila Halaby, Suki Kim, Nasdijj, Willie Perdomo, April Reynolds, Faith Adiele, Raquel Cepeda, Lan Samantha Chang, Lolita Hernandez, Ishle Yi Park, Richard Blanco, Andrew Lam, Ed-Bok Lee, Caryl Phillips, Jennifer Tseng, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Ernest Hardy, Harryette Mullen, Alberto Ríos, Chris Abani, Amiri Baraka, Frances Hwang, Naeem Murr, Joseph M. Marshall III, Uwem Akpan, Juan Felipe Herrera, Lily Hoang, Sherwin Bitsui, Robin D.G. Kelley, Canyon Sam, Manu Joseph, Siddhartha Deb, Gina Apostol, Kevin Young, Ruth Ellen Kocher, Nina McConigley, and Claudia Rankine.

Eligibility and Submissions for the 2016 Awards

Submissions closed on August 15, 2015. This award will be offered again during the 2017 PEN Awards cycle, for which submissions will open in mid-2016.

Who is eligible

  • PEN will only accept submissions from publishers or literary agents.
  • Authors may not submit their own book for this award. 
  • The PEN Open Book Award is open to authors of color who have not received wide media coverage.
  • To be eligible, a candidate's work must have been published in the United States by a Trade publisher between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015.
  • Self-published books are not eligible.

If you submit a book for this award, you may not submit it for any additional PEN American Center awards. Please note that the PEN/Faulkner and PEN/Hemingway Awards are not considered PEN American Center awards.

How to apply

1. Please download the awards Declaration of Eligibility here. Complete all fields and have a company executive sign in order to confirm the book's eligibility. If eligible, please mail this form along with one copy of the book to PEN's office (see step 3).

2. Ccomplete the awards online submission form. As submissions have closed, the form has been deactivated. Each submission is $50*. If you would like to pay by check, please enter CHECK in the coupon code field at checkout. Checks should be made out to PEN American Center. Be sure to print your receipt. Please also submit a verified email address on the submission form; your order cannot be processed without an email address, as this info will be used to later contact you regarding the shipments of your submission. Please note that submission fees are not refundable.

3. Mail one copy of the candidate's book to the address during the open submission period. Please note that we also accept galleys.

PEN Open Book Award
PEN American Center
588 Broadway, Suite 303
New York, NY 10012

4. Once the submitted book is received and reviewed for eligibility by PEN, you will be contacted by [email protected] by the end of the year and asked to ship one copy of the book to each of our three awards judges. Please add [email protected] to your safe sender list.

*Submission fees may be waived for publishers whose annual net sales are less than $4 million. In order to have your dues waived, please have a company official write a letter on company letterhead stating that your press' annual net sales are less than $4 million. Please send this letter as an attachment (.doc or .pdf) to [email protected]. Once received, you will be provided with a coupon code to use at check-out in order to have your submission fees waived. One fee waiver may be used for all 2016 PEN Awards; you do not need to submit a separate fee waiver for each award.