PEN American Center, the largest branch of the world’s leading literary and human rights organization, announced today the winners and runners-up of the 2013 PEN Literary Awards, the most comprehensive literary awards program in the country. This year’s recipients include Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Katherine Boo, former Poet Laureate Robert Hass, acclaimed playwright Larry Kramer, co-editors of Mother Jones Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery, sportswriter and NPR correspondent Frank Deford, who will receive a lifetime achievement award, debut novelist Sergio De La Pava, as well as many other notable emerging and established authors.

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, supporters, and judges, PEN will confer 16 distinct awards, fellowships, grants, and prizes in 2013, awarding nearly $150,000 to writers, editors, and translators.

Award winners and runners-up will be honored at the 2013 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on Monday, October 21, 2013, at CUNY Graduate Center’s Proshansky Auditorium in New York City, featuring Master of Ceremonies Andy Borowitz.

“Every year PEN’s literary awards recognize the brightest lights in literary fiction and nonfiction and honor the sustained careers of writers who are distinguished in their fields, raising awareness for a diverse array of outstanding books,” said PEN President Peter Godwin. “These awards represent the best of PEN’s work in defense of free expression throughout the world—fighting censorship, promoting translations into English, and honoring both the new and well-known authors who make up the core of PEN as an organization. Their voices amplify our advocacy work. We owe a special thanks to our dedicated judges who demonstrate their critical acumen and discerning tastes in choosing such accomplished work each year from an ever-growing number of submissions. We are proud to honor the writers they have selected in this way."

Added Alice Quinn, PEN Awards Committee Chair, “Every year, we are moved by the ardent labor on the part of our distinguished judges and by the citations written by them. This is the praise and recognition that achievement of the first order merits, and the joy and satisfaction the winners and shortlisted writers express is felt by all involved.”

Click through to the individual awards pages below to read the judges’ citations for all books being honored in 2013.

2013 Pen Literary Awards Winners

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize ($25,000): To an author whose debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2012—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise. Judges: Tom Drury, Danielle Evans, and Donald Ray Pollock.


A Naked Singularity (University of Chicago Press), Sergio De La Pava


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 the United States during 2011 or 2012. Judges: Eliza Griswold, Maya Jasanoff, and Edward Mendelson.


Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Random House), Katherine Boo


Moby-Duck (Penguin Books), Donovan Hohn


PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000): For a book of essays published in 2012 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature. Judges: Sven Birkerts, Robert Gottlieb, and Mark Kramer.


What Light Can Do (Ecco), Robert Hass


The Story of America: Essays on Origins (Princeton University Press), Jill Lepore

Waiting for the Barbarians (New York Review Books), Daniel Mendelsohn


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 2012. Judges: Deborah Blum, Katherine Bouton, and Jerome Groopman.


Subliminal (Pantheon Books), Leonard Mlodinow


The Forest Unseen (Viking), David George Haskell


PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award For an American Playwright in Mid-Career and a Master American Dramatist ($7,500): A pair of awards, which honor a Master American Dramatist and an American Playwright in Mid-Career. Judges: Pam MacKinnon, Christopher McElroen, and Tim McHenry.

Master American Dramatist

Winner: Larry Kramer

American Playwright in Mid-Career

Winner: Kirsten Greenidge


PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): To a writer whose body of work represents an exceptional contribution to the field. Judges: David Granger, Laura Hillenbrand, and Steve Isenberg.

Winner: Frank Deford


PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): To honor a nonfiction book on the subject of sports published in 2012. Judges: Jane Leavy, William Leitch, and Ben McGrath.


Like Any Normal Day (St. Martin’s Press), Mark Kram, Jr.


PEN Open Book Award ($5,000): For an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2012. Judges: Cyrus Cassells, Porochista Khakpour, and Tiphanie Yanique.


Gun Dealers’ Daughter (W.W. Norton & Co.), Gina Apostol

The Grey Album (Graywolf Press), Kevin Young


PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000): For a distinguished biography published in 2012. Judges: Debby Applegate, Peter Orner, and Charles Shields.


The Black Count (Broadway Books), Tom Reiss


James Joyce (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Gordon Bowker


PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry ($5,000): To a new and emerging poet of any age who has not published more than one book of poetry. Judges: Henri Cole, Dorianne Laux, and Robert Wrigley.

Winner: Rowan Ricardo Phillips

Runner-up: Tomás Q. Morín


PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship ($5,000): To an author of children’s or young-adult fiction, who has published at least two novels, to complete a book-length work-in-progress. Judges: Deborah Heiligman, Angela Johnson, Julie Anne Peters.


Amy Goldman Koss, The Intake Office


PEN/Steven Kroll Award for Picture Book Writing ($5,000): To a writer for an exceptional story illustrated in a picture book published in 2012. Judges: Barbara Shook Hazen, David Wiesner, and Cheryl Willis Hudson.


The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau (Eerdmans), Michelle Markel


PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000): For a book-length translation of poetry into English published in 2012. Judge: Don Mee Choi.


Molly Weigel, The Shock of the Lenders and Other Poems by Jorge Santiago Perednik (Action Books)


Rosa Alcalá, Spit Temple by Cecilia Vicuña (Ugly Duckling Presse)
Rosmarie Waldrop, Almost 1 Book/Almost 1 Life by Elfriede Czurda (Burning Deck)


PEN Translation Prize ($3,000): For a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2012. Judges: Margaret Carson, Bill Johnston, and Alex Zucker.


Donald O. White, The Island of Second Sight by Albert Vigoleis Thelen (Overlook Press)


Katherine Silver, The Cardboard House by Martín Adán (New Directions)


PEN/Nora Magid Award ($2,500): To honor 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: Jin Auh, Robin Desser, and Anna Holmes.


Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery, co-editors of Mother Jones


PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants ($2,000-$4,000): To support the translation of book-length works into English. Judges: Susan Bernofsky, Barbara Epler, Michael F. Moore*, Richard Sieburth, Lauren Wein, Eliot Weinberger, Natasha Wimmer, and Matvei Yankelevich (*Nonvoting chair of the PEN Translation Fund Advisory Council).


Daniel Borzutzky, El País de Tablas (The Country of Planks), a collection of poems by Chilean poet Raúl Zurita (from Spanish)

Isabel Cole, At the Burning Abyss, a genre-bending book by East German writer Franz Fühmann (from German)

Sean Cotter, Rakes of the Old Court, a novel by Romanian poet and prose writer Mateiu Caragiale (from Romanian)

Chloe Garcia Roberts, Escalating Derangements of My Contemporaries, a collection of poems by Classical Chinese poet Li Shangyin (from Classical Chinese)

Edward Gauvin, The Conductor and Other Tales, a collection of prose fiction by French screenwriter Jean Ferry (from French)

Eleanor Goodman, Something Crosses My Mind, selected poems by Chinese poet Wang Xiaoni (from Chinese)

Marilyn Hacker, The Bridges of Budapest, a collection of poetry by French journalist and poet Jean-Paul de Dadelsen (from French)

Elizabeth Harris, Tristano Dies, a novel by Italian fiction writer Antonio Tabucchi (from Italian)

Jennifer Hayashida, Vitsvit, a debut poetry collection by Athena Farrokhzad, a Swedish writer of Iranian descent (from Swedish)

Eugene Ostashevsky and Daniel Mellis, Tango with Cows, a futurist text by Russian poet and playwright Vasily Kamensky (from Russian)

Jeremy Tiang, Nine Buildings, a creative nonfiction text by Chinese playwright Jingzhi Zou (from Mandarin Chinese)

Annie Tucker, Beauty Is A Wound, a novel by Indonesian writer Eka Kurniawan (from Bahasa Indonesia)

Lara Vergnaud, France, récit d'une enfance (France, Story of Childhood), the final volume of an autobiographical trilogy by Algerian-born French writer Zahia Rahmani (from French)

The Advisory Council is also pleased to announce that its nominee for a 2013 New York State Council on the Arts translation grant, Iza Wojciechowska, was awarded a $5,000 grant in January for her translation of Farbiarka (The Dye Girl), by the contemporary Polish poet Anna Piwkowska.   

The 2013 PEN Literary Awards are made possible through the generous support of, Kathleen Beckett and Steven Kroll, the family of Robert W. Bingham, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel and Carl Spielvogel, ESPN, Harrison Ford, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, The Kaplen Foundation, the PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant, 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, Gerald Weales, and Jacqueline Bograd Weld and Rodman L. Drake.

PEN will be accepting submissions for the 2014 Awards from October 1, 2013 through December 16, 2013. For a list of all 2014 PEN Awards and information about submission guidelines, please visit For general questions about any of the awards, write to For questions about this year’s winners or runners-up, please contact Paul W. Morris, PEN’s Director of Literary Awards, Membership, & Marketing, at:

About PEN American Center

PEN American Center is the largest of the 145 centers of PEN International, the world’s leading human rights and international literary organization. PEN International was founded in 1921 to dispel national, ethnic, and racial tensions and to promote understanding among all countries. PEN American Center, founded a year later, works to advance literature, to defend free expression, and to foster international literary fellowship. Its 2,000 distinguished members carry on the achievements in literature and advancement of human rights of such past members as James Baldwin, Willa Cather, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, Arthur Miller, Marianne Moore, Eugene O’Neill, Susan Sontag, and John Steinbeck. To learn more about the PEN American Center, please visit: