Shortlists Announced for 2016 PEN Literary Awards

PEN America has just released the shortlists for eight of its literary awards, including the categories debut fiction, poetry, and more. The list of finalists includes Ta-Nehisi Coates, Marilynne Robinson, and other great authors. Check it out below!

The shortlist announcement narrows the competitors down to five books for each of the eight categories: Debut Fiction, Art of the Essay, Literary Science Writing, Literary Sports Writing, Biography, Translation, Poetry in Translation, and an Open Book Award. The winners of the Debut Fiction, Art of the Essay, Literary Science Writing, and Open Book prizes will be announced on March 11. The rest of the winners will be announced on March 1.

Check out the full shortlist below, and head over the PEN center’s website for more details!


PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction ($25,000)

In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar



 The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

Mr. and Mrs. Doctor by Julie Iromuanya 

 The Sympathizer: A Novel by Viet Thanh Nguyen

 Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness by Jennifer Tseng


PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000)

After the Tall Timber: Collected Non-Fiction by Renata Adler

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Quarry by Susan Howe

The Givenness of Things: Essays by Marilynne Robinson

Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles by David L. Ulin


PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award ($10,000)

Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett

The End of Plenty: The Race to Feed a Crowded World by Joel K. Bourne Jr.

The Boy Who Played with Fusion: Extreme Science, Extreme Parenting, and How to Make a Star by Tom Clynes

Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future by Lauren Redniss

Island on Fire: The Extraordinary Story of a Forgotten Volcano That Changed the World by Alexandra Witze and Jeff Kanipe


PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000)

Not a Game: The Incredible Rise and Unthinkable Fall of Allen Iverson by Kent Babb

The Domino Diaries: My Decade Boxing with Olympic Champions and Chasing Hemingway’s Ghost in the Last Days of Castro’s Cuba by Brin-Jonathan Butler

The Secret Game: A Wartime Story of Courage, Change, and Basketball’s Lost Triumph by Scott Ellsworth

Molina: The Story of the Father Who Raised an Unlikely Baseball Dynasty by Bengie Molina with Joan Ryan

The Grind: Inside Baseball’s Endless Season by Barry Svrluga


PEN Open Book Award ($5,000)

Chord by Rick Barot

Bastards of the Reagan Era by Reginald Dwayne Betts

Forest Primeval: Poems by Vievee Francis

Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey by Marie Mutsuki Mockett

Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape by Lauret Savoy


PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000)

The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects by Deborah Lutz

Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art by Nancy Princenthal

John le Carré: The Biography by Adam Sisman

Michelle Obama: A Life by Peter Slevin

Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva by Rosemary Sullivan


PEN Translation Prize ($3,000)

The Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector, translated by Katrina Dodson

The Blizzard by Vladimir Sorokin, translated by Jamey Gambrell

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, translated by Oliver Ready

The Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov, translated by Angela Rodel

The Hollow Heart by Viola Di Grado, translated by Antony Shugaar


PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000)

The School of Solitude: Collected Poems by Luis Hernández, translated by Anthony Geist

The Late Poems of Wang An-Shih, translated by David Hinton

Rilke Shake by Angélica Freitas, translated by Hilary Kaplan

I Burned at the Feast: Selected Poems of Arseny Tarkovsky, translated by Philip Metres and Dimitri Psurtsev

The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa, translated by Sawako Nakayasu