PEN America Literary Awards Winners Announced

For over 50 years, the PEN America Literary Awards have honored outstanding voices in fiction, poetry, science writing, essays, sports writing, biography, children’s literature, translation, and drama. The 2018 winners were announced  at the 2018 PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony in NYC on February 20th.

PEN America Executive Director Suzanne Nossel said, “This year’s awardees represent the near and far corners of the literary landscape, including writers who have shattered barriers of race, class, ethnicity, geography, gender and sexual orientation to bring stories to new audiences, unlock empathy and take places of distinction within our collective canon. In times of challenge great literature offers a desperately needed window onto other possibilities. We celebrate these extraordinary writers, and we thank them for keeping us nourished at a time when inspiration is sorely needed.”

Listen to these 2018 PEN America Award-winners on!

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction

Sour Heart

by Jenny Zhang

From the judges’ citation: “Sour Heart enlarges the reader’s understanding of the world with a voice so run through with lively contradiction it is as tender as it is rough, as mature as it is youthful, both urgent and cool.”

PEN Open Book Award

A Moonless, Starless Sky

by Alexis Okeowo

From the judges’ citation: “In A Moonless, Starless Sky, journalist Alexis Okeowo humanizes the lives behind the headlines, transforming often one-dimensional news stories from the African continent into narratives of endurance and survival.”

PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay

No Time to Spare

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin has taken readers to imaginary worlds for decades. Now she’s in the last great frontier of life, old age, and exploring new literary territory: the blog, a forum where her voice-sharp, witty, as compassionate as it is critical-shines. No Time to Spare collects the best of Ursula’s blog, presenting perfectly crystallized dispatches on what matters to her now, her concerns with this world, and her wonder at it.

PEN/Bograd Weld Prize for Biography

Richard Nixon: The Life

by John A. Farrell

From the judges’ citation: “…Most stunning is the meticulous and eerie portrayal of Nixon’s toxic psychological progression, so that in the end Watergate or something like it was fated to happen.”

PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing

Ali: A Life

by Jonathan Eig

From the judges’ citation: “It is a beautifully-written, transcendent biography that renders vivid in every stage of how remarkable life: Ali the brash teenager, Ali the proud Muslim, Ali the conscientious objector—and then: Ali the warrior, the man of peace, and finally the icon.”

See the full list of PEN America Award Winners.