PEN America announces literary awards finalists 


The nonprofit organization PEN America announced the finalists for their annual literary awards on Thursday, with books by Ada Limón, Richard Powers, Tommy Orange and Ling Ma among the nominees.

Powers’ novel “The Overstory” and Limón’s poetry collection “The Carrying” made the shortlist for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, which is given annually to an outstanding book in any genre. The award comes with a cash prize of $75,000.

Rounding out the Jean Stein shortlist were Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s short-story collection “Friday Black,” Tara Westover’s memoir “Educated” and José Olivarez’s memoir “Citizen Illegal.”


The finalists for the PEN/Hemingway Award for a debut novel included Akwaeke Emezi’s “Freshwater,” Meghan Kenny’s “The Driest Season,’ Ma’s “Severance,” Orange’s “There There” and Nico Walker’s “Cherry.” Orange’s novel was recently awarded the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize for a first book in any genre.

Five debut short-story collections were nominated for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, which comes with a $25,000 award. The finalists included Chaya Bhuvaneswar’s “White Dancing Elephants,” Jamel Brinkley’s “A Lucky Man,” Helen DeWitt’s “Some Trick,” Akil Kumarasamy’s “Half Gods” and Will Mackin’s “Bring Out the Dog.”

The nominees for PEN’s Open Book Award, which honors an outstanding book by an author of color, included Shauna Barbosa’s “Cape Verdean Blues,” Tyrese Coleman’s “How to Sit: A Memoir in Stories and Essays,” Ángel García’s “Teeth Never Sleep,” Nafissa Thompson-Spires’ “Heads of the Colored People” and Jenny Xie’s “Eye Level.”

Five nonfiction books made the shortlist for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award, including Carol Anderson’s “One Person, No Vote,” Shane Bauer’s “American Prison,” Eliza Griswold’s “Amity and Prosperity,” Dunya Mikhail’s “The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq” and Bernice Yeung’s “In a Day’s Work.”

The nominees for PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the art of the essay included Jabara Asim’s “We Can’t Breathe: On Black Lives, White Lies, and the Art of Survival,” Alexander Chee’s “How to Write an Autobiographical Novel,” Brian Phillips’ “Impossible Owls,” Zadie Smith’s “Feel Free” and Michelle Tea’s “Against Memoir.”

The winners of the awards will be announced at a ceremony on Feb. 26 in New York. A full list of the nominees, which also includes prizes for biographies, works in translation, science writing and sportswriting, is posted at the PEN America website.