March 1, 2022
Daisy Hernández’s “The Kissing Bug,” a memoir about a lethal illness that killed her aunt, has received a $75,000 prize from PEN America, according to the Associated Press.
The literary and free expression organization announced Monday that Hernández had won the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award for a work of any genre demonstrating “originality, merit and impact, with Joy Williams’ “Harrow” and Percival Everett’s “The Trees” among the finalists.
Other winners included Yoon Choi’s “Skinship,” which received the $25,000 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for best debut story collection, and Margaret Renkl’s “Graceland, at Last,” presented the $15,000 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. The $10,000 PEN/Open Book Award, for “exceptional” work by a writer of color, was given to Divya Victor’s exploration of immigration and white supremacy “Curb.” The PEN/Hemingway prize for best first novel went to Torrey Peters’ “Detransition, Baby.”
The ceremony took place at Manhattan’s Town Hall and was hosted by Seth Meyers. Several speakers referred to the Russian war in Ukraine and a candlelight vigil was held outside later Monday night.
Honorary awards, announced previously, were given to Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury and the actor, writer and filmmaker Elaine May, who was introduced on video by Nathan Lane and in person by Candice Bergen. May, who turns 90 this spring, accepted in a video statement, during which she expressed regret she couldn’t give the 27-page speech she had planned, and otherwise noted that she had won far fewer awards than her former comedy partner and the man her prize was named for, the late Mike Nichols.
The $5,000 PEN/Voelcker Award for poetry went to Diane Seuss’ “frank: sonnets” and the $5,000 PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for biograpahy was given to Rebecca Donner’s “All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days.”
Translation awards, each with a cash prize of $3,000, were presented to Jerzy Ficowski’s poetry collection, translated from the Polish by Jennifer Grotz and Piotr Sommer; and to Mariana Oliver’s book of essays “Migratory Birds,” translated from the Spanish by Julia Sanches.