PEN America announced today the revival of the illustrious PEN/Nabokov Award, which honors a writer whose works “evoke to some measure Nabokov’s brilliant versatility and commitment to literature as a search for the deepest truth and the highest pleasure.” The revitalized prize will award $50,000 to a writer born or residing outside the United States for an outstanding body of work over a sustained career.

Supported by the Vladimir Nabokov Literary Foundation–headed by eminent literary agent Andrew Wylie–­­­and administered by PEN America, the new PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature will honor an international writer whose work, either written in or translated into English, represents the highest level of achievement in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and/or drama, and is of enduring originality and consummate craftsmanship. The winner will be selected by a panel of five internationally recognized writers who will serve as judges. The award will not be open to public nominations.

The award marks a renewed partnership between PEN America and the Vladimir Nabokov Literary Foundation, who together created the PEN/Nabokov Award for Fiction in 2000. Offered through 2008, this previous iteration of the award granted $20,000 biennially for achievement in literary fiction, honoring luminaries Mavis Gallant, William H. Gass, Mario Vargas Llosa, Cynthia Ozick, andPhilip Roth.

“The new PEN/Nabokov Award is the first PEN America honor specifically focused on international writers. At a time when there is too little dialogue between nations, it will draw attention to outstanding global voices that may be unknown to most U.S. readers,” said PEN America President Andrew Solomon. “It is a welcome counterbalance to rampant xenophobia and increasingly jingoistic provincialism. In renewing our close collaboration with the Vladimir Nabokov Literary Foundation, PEN America pays tribute to the cross-cultural legacy of one of the most revered multinational PEN Members, a master of storytelling: Vladimir Nabokov.”

The PEN America Literary Awards is the most comprehensive awards program in the country, offering more than 25 honors across a wide range of genres including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, theater, translation, and more. With the addition of this new award, PEN America will confer nearly $315,000 in grants and prizes in 2017, nearly doubling its 2015 monetary awards to working writers.

The PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature will be conferred for the first time in 2017, with the inaugural recipient to be named at the PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony in New York this February.


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.