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Shortlists Announced for the 2014 PEN Literary Awards

June 17, 2014

MALCOLM, MERWIN, SEDARIS, SOLOMON, WOLCOTT SHORTLISTED FOR 2014 PEN LITERARY AWARDS

New York City, June 18, 2014—PEN American Center today announced the shortlists for its prestigious Literary Awards in categories spanning fiction, non-fiction, poetry, translation, essay, and more. The shortlist includes a number of nationally and internationally acclaimed writers, including Janet Malcolm, W. S. Merwin, David Sedaris, Deborah Solomon, and James Wolcott, as well as new and emerging writers from around the world, like Kwame Dawes, Anthony Marra, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, and Taiye Selasi. The full register of shortlisted titles appears below.

For over 50 years, the PEN awards have celebrated many of the most astounding voices in literature. Winners of the 18 distinct awards, fellowships, grants, and prizes—totaling nearly $150,000—will be announced on July 30.

“The PEN Literary Awards bring together writers, editors, and members of the literary community to celebrate the ultimate fruit of free expression: great literature,” said PEN Executive Director Suzanne Nossel. “These shortlists represent a remarkable array of diverse talents. We are honored to draw attention to these distinguished works, to congratulate the wonderful writers who created them, and to thank the dedicated judges who have read thousands of books and manuscripts in order to make very difficult selections.”

For the first time, PEN this year issued a longlist for the awards in May, recognizing more authors than ever before and bringing attention to a variety of important works of literature that creative freedom has made possible. Alice Quinn, Chair of PEN’s Literary Awards Committee, added, “The shortlists announced today reflect a renewed effort on the part of the revered judges to assess the special qualities of all the books held aloft on the longlist. This new three-tiered approach—longlist, shortlist, and the final announcement of winners staggered over three months—allows all the books on the initial list to have their day in the sun, to be recognized as the stellar books the judges deem them to be.”

PEN American Center celebrated the awards judges, who include writers Edwidge Danticat, E.L. Doctorow, Geoff Dyer, Kimiko Hahn, John Lithgow, Fiona Maazel, Terry McMillan, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, and Zadie Smith, among others, at a gathering at Housing Works Bookstore Café in SoHo last night. This event, occurring on the eve of the shortlist announcement, publicly acknowledged the time and commitment that goes into selecting both the long- and shortlists. At the event, PEN also named Ron Childress the winner of the biannual PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction for his unpublished novel And West Is West.

The PEN/Bellwether Prize, founded and entirely funded by novelist Barbara Kingsolver, celebrates emerging voices that push literary boundaries. The winner will receive $25,000 and a publishing contract. Childress’s prize-winning manuscript follows a drone pilot and a Wall Street banking analyst as they are forced to make moral compromises in the post 9/11 era of drone strikes, rampant sectarianism, and unbridled capitalism. “Tying together America's financial system and military operations through characters in a novel is such a bold move,” said Kingsolver. “This writer can write, these characters are real, the story is crackerjack.” And West Is West will be published by Algonquin Books in Fall 2015.

The PEN Awards Ceremony will take place on September 29, 2014, co-sponsored by The New School. Visit PEN.org for more information.

2014 SHORTLISTS

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize ($25,000): To an author whose debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2013—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.

Judges: Charles Bock, Jonathan Dee, Fiona Maazel, and Karen Shepard

Shortlist:

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth), Anthony Marra
Brief Encounters With the Enemy (The Dial Press), Saïd Sayrafiezadeh
Everybody’s Irish (FiveChapters Books), Ian Stansel
Godforsaken Idaho (Little A/New Harvest), Shawn Vestal
The People in the Trees (Doubleday), Hanya Yanagihara

 

PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000): For a book of essays published in 2013 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature.

Judges: Geoff Dyer, Stanley Fish, Ariel Levy, and Cheryl Strayed

Shortlist:

Forty-One False Starts (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Janet Malcolm
Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls (Little, Brown and Company), David Sedaris
The Faraway Nearby (Viking Adult), Rebecca Solnit
Critical Mass (Doubleday), James Wolcott

 

PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award ($10,000): For a book of literary nonfiction on the subject of the physical or biological sciences published in 2013.

Judges: Akiko Busch, Rivka Galchen, and Eileen Pollack

Shortlist:

The End of Night (Little, Brown and Company), Paul Bogard
Five Days at Memorial (Crown), Sheri Fink
High Price (Harper), Carl Hart
Surfaces and Essences (Basic Books), Douglas Hofstadter & Emmanuel Sander
Wild Ones (Penguin Press), Jon Mooallem

 

PEN Open Book Award ($5,000): For an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2013.

Judges: Catherine Chung, Randa Jarrar, and Monica Youn

Shortlist:

Duppy Conqueror (Copper Canyon Press), Kwame Dawes
Leaving Tulsa (University of Arizona Press), Jennifer Elise Foerster
domina Un/blued (Tupelo Press), Ruth Ellen Kocher
Cowboys and East Indians (FiveChapters Books), Nina McConigley
Ghana Must Go (Penguin Press), Taiye Selasi

 

PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000): For a distinguished biography published in 2013.

Judges: James Atlas, Lisa Cohen, and Wendy Gimbel

Shortlist:

Lawrence in Arabia (Doubleday), Scott Anderson
Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Linda Leavell
Margaret Fuller (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Megan Marshall
American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Deborah Solomon
A Life of Barbara Stanwyck (Simon & Schuster), Victoria Wilson

 

PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): To honor a nonfiction book on the subject of sports published in 2013.

Judges: Joel Drucker, Chad Harbach, and Jackie MacMullan

Shortlist:

Collision Low Crossers (Little, Brown and Company), Nicholas Dawidoff
The Sports Gene (Current), David Epstein
League of Denial (Crown Archetype), Mark Fainaru-Wada & Steve Fainaru
The Emerald Mile (Scribner), Kevin Fedarko
Their Life’s Work (Simon & Schuster), Gary M. Pomerantz

 

PEN/Steven Kroll Award for Picture Book Writing ($5,000): To a writer for an exceptional story illustrated in a picture book published in 2013.

Judges: Mac Barnett, Ted Lewin, and Elizabeth Winthrop

Shortlist:

Train (Orchard Books), Elisha Cooper
Tea Party Rules (Viking), Ame Dyckman
The King of Little Things (Peachtree Publishers), Bil Lepp
Crabtree (McSweeney’s McMullens), Jon & Tucker Nichols

 

PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000): For a book-length translation of poetry into English published in 2013.

Judge: Kimiko Hahn

Shortlist:

Even Now: Poems by Hugo Claus (Archipelago), David Colmer
Diaries of Exile by Yannis Ritsos (Archipelago), Karen Emmerich & Edmund Keeley
Collected Haiku of Yosa Buson by Yosa Buson (Copper Canyon Press), Takako Lento & W.S. Merwin
Paul Klee’s Boat by Anzhelina Polonskaya (Zephyr Press), Andrew Wachtel
Cut These Words Into My Stone: Ancient Greek Epitaphs (Johns Hopkins University Press), Michael Wolfe

 

PEN Translation Prize ($3,000): For a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2013.

Judges: Ann Goldstein, Becka McKay, and Katherine Silver

Shortlist:

An Armenian Sketchbook by Vasily Grossman (New York Review Books), Elizabeth & Robert Chandler
Transit by Anna Seghers (New York Review Books), Margot Bettauer Dembo
The African Shore by Rodrigo Rey Rosa (Yale University Press), Jeffrey Gray
The Emperor’s Tomb by Joseph Roth (New Directions), Michael Hofmann
Autobiography of a Corpse by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (New York Review Books), Joanne Turnbull & Nikolai Formozov


2014 CAREER ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS AND JUDGES

(The following PEN Awards do not have shortlists but are listed below to recognize the participation of those authors who are judging the awards. The winners will be announced later this summer along with the winners for the above book awards.)

PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction ($25,000): To a distinguished living American author of fiction.

Judges: Edwidge Danticat, E.L. Doctorow, and Zadie Smith

 

PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, Founded by Barbara Kingsolver ($25,000): To an author of an unpublished novel that addresses issues of social justice. The prize also includes a publishing contract with Algonquin Books.

Judges: Terry McMillan, Nancy Pearl, Kathy Pories

 

PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry ($5,000): To a poet whose distinguished and growing body of work to date represents a notable and accomplished presence in American literature.

Judges: Peg Boyers, Toi Derricotte, and Rowan Ricardo Phillips

 

PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Awards ($7,500 and $2,500): Three awards which honor a Master American Dramatist, American Playwright in Mid-Career, and Emerging American Playwright. This is the inaugural year of the Award for an Emerging American Playwright.

Judges: John Lithgow, Elizabeth Streb, and Maria Tucci

 

PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship ($5,000): To an author of children’s or young-adult fiction, who has published at least two books, to complete a book-length work-in-progress.

Judges: Kathi Appelt, Johanna Hurwitz, and Padma Venkatraman

 

PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): To a writer whose body of work represents an exceptional contribution to the field.

Judges: Kostya Kennedy, David Rosenthal, and John Schulian

 

PEN/Edward and Lily Tuck Award for Paraguayan Literature ($3,000): To a living author of a major work of Paraguayan literature not yet translated into English.

Judges: Idra Novey, Yvette Siegert, and Mark Statman

 

PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants ($2,000-$4,000): To support the translation of book-length works into English.

Judges: Esther Allen, Barbara Epler, Sara Khalili, Michael F. Moore*, Lorin Stein, Lauren Wein (*Voting Chair of the PEN/Heim Translation Fund Advisory Council)

The 2014 PEN Literary Awards are made possible through the generous support of PEN's many donors: Amazon.com, Kathleen Beckett and Steven Kroll, the family of Robert W. Bingham, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel and Carl Spielvogel, ESPN, Harrison Ford, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, The Kaplen Foundation, Barbara Kingsolver, Priscilla and Michael Henry Heim, Michael Moritz and Harriet Heyman, Phyllis Naylor, the Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater, the Estate of Rochelle Ratner, Dr. Edward O. Wilson and the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, James and Cathy Stone, Edward and Lily Tuck, Hunce Voelcker, and Jacqueline Bograd Weld and Rodman L. Drake.

PEN will begin accepting submissions for its 2015 Awards later this summer. For a list of all 2015 PEN Awards and information about submission guidelines, please visit www.pen.org/awards. For questions about any of the awards, write to awards@pen.org. For questions about the shortlisted titles, upcoming awards announcements, or advertising in the 2014 Ceremony program, please contact Paul W. Morris, PEN’s Director of Literary Awards, Membership, & Marketing, at paul@pen.org.

About PEN American Center

PEN American Center is the largest of the 145 centers of PEN International, the world’s leading human rights and international literary organization. PEN International was founded in 1921 to dispel national, ethnic, and racial tensions and to promote understanding among all countries. PEN American Center, founded a year later, works to advance literature, to defend free expression, and to foster international literary fellowship. Its 2,000 distinguished members carry on the achievements in literature and advancement of human rights of such past members as James Baldwin, Willa Cather, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, Arthur Miller, Marianne Moore, Eugene O’Neill, Susan Sontag, and John Steinbeck. To learn more about the PEN American Center, please visit: www.pen.org.