The PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay aims to preserve the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature. The winner receives a cash award of $10,000 and will be honored at the PEN Literary Awards.
There are no restrictions on the subject matter of the essays; books are judged solely on the basis of literary character and distinction of writing, and equal consideration is given to the work of both renowned essayists and more recently established writers. Essays may deal either with a range of subjects or may explore one specific theme, but the book, taken as a whole, should be a series of individual essays, not conceived as a single booklength work of nonfiction. Individual essays included in books may have been previously published in magazines, journals, or anthologies.
In 1991 PEN Member and author Barbaralee Diamonstein and Carl Spielvogel, former New York Times columnist, founded the PEN/Spielvogel-Diamonstein Award for the Art of the Essay to preserve the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature. The award took a hiatus from 2005-2010.
Past Winners: Bernard Knox, Martha Nussbaum, David B. Morris, Frederick Crews, Stanley Fish, John Brinckerhoff Jackson, Thomas Nagel, Cynthia Ozick, Adam Hochschild, Marilynne Robinson, Annie Dillard, David Quammen, David Bromwich, William H. Gass, Stewart Justman, Mark Slouka, Christopher Hitchens, Robert Hass, and James Wolcott.
Eligibility and Submissions for the 2015 Awards
Submissions are now closed. This award will be offered again in 2016. Please check back in mid-2015 for submissions details for the 2016 award.
- PEN will only accept submissions from publishers or literary agents. Authors may not submit their own book for this award.
- One need not be a Member of PEN to submit
- Eligible titles must have been published by a U.S. trade publisher between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014.
- Candidates must be permanent U.S. residents or American citizens.
- There are no restrictions on the candidate’s age or on the style of his or her work.
- Self-published books are not eligible.