2014 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction


Ron Childress for his manuscript And West Is West

The Bellwether Prize, which was established in 2000 by Barbara Kingsolver and is funded entirely by her, was created to promote fiction that addresses issues of social justice and the impact of culture and politics on human relationships. The $25,000 prize is awarded biennially to the author of a previously unpublished novel of high literary caliber that exemplifies the prize’s founding principles. The winner also receives a publishing contract with Algonquin Books. The PEN/Bellwether Prize will be conferred at PEN’s Literary Awards Ceremony in New York City in the fall of 2014.

2014 Judges

Terry McMillan, Nancy Pearl, and Kathy Pories

From the Judges' Citation

When an air force drone pilot in Nevada participates in a military strike that causes collateral damage half a world away; and a programmer on Wall Street develops an algorithm whereby his company can profit from international disruptions, their moral compromises begin to affect their lives. As they seek redemption for participating in systems they have lost faith in, their paths begin violently to converge. Their lives, and the lives of those around them spiral out of control, leading some toward disaster and others toward redemption. By taking us into the lives of these and other characters, And West Is West reveals how the lower-order participants in corrupt systems take the fall when things go badly. Even more so, it’s about the impossibility of steering clear of corruption both on Wall Street and in the military. But at the same time, this novel is not just a look at an America in crisis; it is also a story of love, loss and hope. And West Is West will be published by Algonquin Books in Fall 2015.

Past winners

Donna Gershten, Gayle Brandeis, Marjorie Kowalski Cole, Hillary Jordan, Heidi W. Durrow, Naomi Benaron, and Susan Nussbaum.

Click here for addtional information on the award.