PEN American Center today announced the winners for the 2015 PEN Literary Awards. Among the recipients are Eliza Griswold, winner of the prestigious PEN Translation Prize for I Am the Beggar of the World (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Tina Howe, who will receive the award for master American dramatist; and Saeed Jones, who will be recognized for his collection of debut poetry, Prelude to Bruise (Coffee House Press).


With the help of its partners and supporters, PEN will confer 19 distinct awards for literary excellence in 2015, totaling nearly $150,000 to writers and translators. The complete list of winners is available at


“The PEN Literary Awards acknowledge remarkable accomplishment in writing. The distinguished writers who serve as judges identify other writers’ outstanding achievement, bestowing the validation that comes of peer recognition,” said Andrew Solomon, PEN American Center President. “The awards burnish the careers of novelists, translators, essayists, and poets; equally, they enhance the diverse landscape available to readers. They celebrate the freedom that is a prerequisite to great literature.”


All award recipients will be honored at the 2015 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony to be held on June 8 in New York City. The winners of three awards—the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, and the PEN Open Book Award—not announced today will be revealed live at the event.


“To be honored by PEN, an organization created by writers for writers, is a singular honor and milestone within the literary life of our recipients,” said Monique Truong, chair of PEN’s Literary Awards Committee. “At next month’s ceremony, we look forward to celebrating the winners and the judges, who over the past few months have devoted so much time—the most valuable of resources—to their careful and nuanced considerations of literary merit.”


For more than 50 years, the PEN Literary Awards have honored many of the most outstanding voices in literature across such diverse fields as fiction, poetry, science writing, essays, sports writing, biography, children’s literature, translation, and drama. With the help of its partners and supporters, PEN will confer 19 distinct awards, fellowships, grants, and prizes in 2015, awarding nearly $150,000 to writers and translators.





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 2014.

JUDGES: Sue Halpern, Marie Myung-Ok Lee, and Carl Zimmer

WINNER: War of the Whales: A True Story (Simon & Schuster), Joshua Horwitz


PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction ($10,000): To an author of a distinguished book of general nonfiction possessing notable literary merit and critical perspective and illuminating important contemporary issues which has been published in 2013 or 2014.

JUDGES: Andrew Blechman, Paul Elie, Azadeh Moaveni, Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, and Paul Reyes

WINNER: Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital (Crown), Sheri Fink


PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000): For a distinguished biography published in 2014.

JUDGES: Emily Bernard, Nicholas Fox Weber, and Jon Meacham

WINNER: The Queen’s Bed: An Intimate History of Elizabeth’s Court (Sarah Crichton Books/ Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Anna Whitelock


PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry ($5,000): For an emerging American poet showing promise of further literary achievement.

JUDGES: Marie Howe, Mary Szybist, and Craig Morgan Teicher

WINNER: Saeed Jones for Prelude to Bruise (Coffee House Press)


PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship ($5,000): For an author of children’s or young-adult fiction to complete a book-length work-in-progress.

JUDGES: Viola Canales, Selene Castrovilla, and Elizabeth Levy

WINNER: Stephanie Keuhn for The Pragmatist


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

JUDGES: Mike Barnicle, Franklin Foer, and Selena Roberts

WINNER: Bob Ryan


PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000): For a book-length translation of poetry into English published in 2014.

JUDGE: Ana Božičević

WINNER: I Am the Beggar of the World (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), translated from the Pashto by Eliza Griswold


PEN Translation Prize ($3,000): For a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2014.

JUDGES: Heather Cleary, Lucas Klein, Tess Lewis, and Allison Markin Powell

WINNER: Baboon by Naja Marie Aidt (Two Lines Press), translated from the Danish by Denise Newman


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.

JUDGES: Kathleen Chalfant, Ellen McLaughlin, and Adam Rapp


Master American Dramatist

WINNER: Tina Howe


American Playwright in Mid-Career ($7,500)

WINNER: Anne Washburn


Emerging American Playwright ($2,500)

WINNER: Jennifer Blackmer


PEN/Nora Magid Award for Editing ($2,500): For a magazine editor whose high literary taste has, throughout his or her career, contributed significantly to the excellence of the publication he or she edits.

JUDGES: Christopher Castellani, Carmela Ciuraru, and Bill Clegg

WINNER: Rob Spillman for Tin House


PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation: For a translator whose career has demonstrated a commitment to excellence through the body of his or her work.

JUDGES: Selected by the PEN Translation Committee

WINNER: Burton Watson





PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction ($25,000): To an author whose debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2014—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.

JUDGES: Caroline Fraser, Katie Kitamura, Paul La Farge, and Victor LaValle

The winner will be announced at the 2015 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on June 8


The UnAmericans (W. W. Norton & Company), Molly Antopol

Ruby (Hogarth), Cynthia Bond

Redeployment (Penguin Press), Phil Klay

The Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Jack Livings

Love Me Back (Doubleday), Merritt Tierce


PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000): For a book of essays published in 2014 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature.

JUDGES: Diane Johnson, Dahlia Lithwick, Vijay Seshadri, and Mark Slouka


The winner will be announced at the 2015 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on June 8



Moral Imagination (Princeton University Press), David Bromwich

Theater of Cruelty (New York Review Books), Ian Buruma

Loitering (Tin House Books), Charles D’Ambrosio

The Empathy Exams (Graywolf Press), Leslie Jamison

Limber (Sarabande Books), Angela Pelster


PEN/Fusion Emerging Writers Prize ($10,000): For a promising young writer under the age of 35 for an unpublished work of nonfiction that addresses a global and/or multicultural issue.

JUDGES: John Freeman, Roxane Gay, and Cristina Henríquez

WINNER: The winner will be announced later this month.­­­


PEN Open Book Award ($5,000): For an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2014.

JUDGES: R. Erica Doyle, W. Ralph Eubanks, and Chinelo Okparanta


The winner will be announced at the 2015 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on June 8



An Unnecessary Woman (Grove Press), Rabih Alameddine

Every Day Is for the Thief (Random House), Teju Cole

An Untamed State (Black Cat/ Grove Atlantic), Roxane Gay

Citizen (Graywolf Press), Claudia Rankine

The City Son (Soho Press), Samrat Upadhyay


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

JUDGES: Esther Allen, Mitzi Angel, Peter Blackstock, Howard Goldblatt, Sara Khalili, Michael F. Moore*, Declan Spring, and Alex Zucker (*Voting Chair of the PEN/Heim Advisory Board)

WINNER: Grant recipients will be announced later this month.




The 2015 PEN Literary Awards are made possible through the generous support of PEN’s many donors:, the family of Robert W. Bingham, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel and Carl Spielvogel, Bernard Malamud, ESPN, Gay Talese, Gerald Weales, Harrison Ford, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, The Kaplen Foundation, Barbara Kingsolver, Priscilla and Michael Henry Heim, 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, the family and friends of Ralph Manheim, Jacqueline Bograd Weld and Rodman L. Drake, and Univision.


PEN will begin accepting submissions for its 2016 Awards later this summer. For a list of all 2016 PEN Awards and information about submission guidelines, please visit For questions about any of the awards, write to For questions about the shortlisted titles, upcoming awards announcements, or advertising in the 2015 Ceremony program, please contact Paul W. Morris, PEN’s Director of Literary Programs, at

Founded in 1922, PEN American Center is an association of 4,000 U.S writers working to break down barriers to free expression worldwide. Its distinguished members carry on the achievements in literature and the advancement of human rights of such past members as Langston Hughes, Arthur Miller, Susan Sontag, and John Steinbeck.