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PEN America Launches Emerging Writers Award

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April 25- April 30, 2011 Edition PEN America Launches Emerging Writers Award

New York City, April 25, 2011—PEN American Center, the largest branch of the world’s oldest literary and human rights organization, announced last week the creation of the PEN Emerging Writers Awards, established to promote talented up-and-coming authors whose writing has been featured in distinguished literary journals across the country, but who have yet to publish book-length works.

Thanks to a generous gift from the same anonymous donor who sponsors the PEN/W. G. Sebald Award for a Fiction Writer in Mid-Career, PEN will provide prizes to three promising new writers—one fiction writer, one nonfiction writer, and one poet—at a crucial early moment in their careers. Each recipient will be awarded $1,660 and be honored at PEN’s Literary Awards Ceremony in New York City on October 12, 2011. Candidates for the Emerging Writers Awards will be nominated by the editors of approximately 20 to 25 print and online journals, who will submit letters of nomination and writing samples on behalf of promising writers whose work they have published. The list of journals will be selected by PEN’s Awards Committee, in consultation with the donor, to represent a rich and diverse range of literary voices and perspectives, and will be reviewed annually.

“These awards are very much in keeping with PEN’s mission, to nurture fellowship within the literary community, which includes fellowship between new, emerging writers and writers more established in their careers. We’re delighted to add these awards, which will help writers at such a critical early moment, to PEN’s other awards offerings,” said Anthony Appiah, President of PEN American Center. “We’re also pleased to have the commendations coming from journal editors, who know the work of talented up-and-coming writers as well as anyone.” In its inaugural year, the PEN Emerging Writers Awards will be judged by Reif Larsen, David Lehman, and Robin Romm.

Larsen’s New York Times–bestselling debut novel, The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet (The Penguin Press, 2009), will be adapted into a film by French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who is best known for films Amélie, The City of Lost Children, and Delicatessen. David Lehman is series editor of The Best American Poetry, editor of The Oxford Book of American Poetry, and author of A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs, which won a Deems Taylor Award from the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP). His poetry books include The Daily Mirror and When a Woman Loves a Man. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts; an award in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; and a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writer’s Award. He teaches in the graduate writing program of the New School in New York City. Romm is the author of the memoir The Mercy Papers (Scribner, 2009), a New York Times Notable Book, and the story collection The Mother Garden (Scribner, 2007), which was a finalist for the PEN USA prize. She is on the faculty of the MFA program at New Mexico State University.

The PEN Literary Awards are the most comprehensive in the United States. Each year, with the help of its partners and supporters, PEN confers more than $140,000 to writers, editors, and translators. More information about the PEN Awards can be found at www.pen.org/awards

About PEN American Center PEN American Center is the largest of the 145 centers of International PEN, the world’s oldest human rights organization and the oldest international literary organization. International PEN 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 3,400 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: www.pen.org