1 December, 2022

2017 PEN America Literary Awards Finalists Announced

PEN America Center, founded in 1922 and based in New York City, works to advance literature, to defend free expression, and to foster international literary fellowship. It has an extensive program of annual awards and fellowships that serve to recognize recent outstanding endeavors in various literary fields and to encourage different forms of literary production.

On Wednesday, PEN America announced  the finalists for the 2017 PEN America Literary Awards; The winners for the 2017 awards will be announced on February 22.

Here is the list of finalists:

PEN/Jean Stein Book Award – to recognize a book-length work of any genre for its originality, merit, and impact


  • Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole
  • Olio by Tyehimba Jess
  • The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between by Hisham Matar
  • Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction – to an author whose debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise


  • Insurrections by Rion Amilcar Scott
  • We Show What We Have Learned by Clare Beams
  • The Mothers by Brit Bennett
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • Hurt People by Cote Smith

PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay – for a book of essays that exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature


  • The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine and Motherhood by Belle Boggs
  • Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole
  • A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on Art, Sex, and the Mind by Siri Hustvedt
  • The Girls in My Town by Angela Morales
  • Becoming Earth by Eva Saulitis

PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction  – to an author of a distinguished book of general nonfiction published possessing notable literary merit and critical perspective and illuminating important contemporary issues


  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
  • The Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America by Patrick Phillips
  • Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones
  • Children of Paradise: The Struggle for the Soul of Iran by Laura Secor
  • Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship by Anjan Sundaram

PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award – for a book of literary nonfiction on the subject of the physical or biological sciences


  • Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets by Luke Dittrich
  • Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History by Dan Flores
  • How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of a Private Spaceflight by Julian Guthrie
  • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
  • The Dragon Behind the Glass: A True Story of Power, Obsession, and the World’s Most Coveted Fish by Emily Voigt

PEN Open Book Award – for an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color


  • The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah
  • The Big Book of Exit Strategies by Jamaal May
  • What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
  • Look by Solmaz Sharif
  • Blackacre by Monica Youn

PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing – to honor a nonfiction book on the subject of sports


  • The Last Innocents: The Collision of the Turbulent Sixties and the Los Angeles Dodgers by Michael Leahy
  • Catching the Sky by Colten Moore with Keith O‘Brien
  • Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA by Joe Nocera and Ben Strauss
  • Playing Through the Whistle: Steel, Football, and an American Town by S.L. Price
  • Fastpitch: The Untold History of the Softball and the Women Who Made the Game by Erica Westly

PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography – for a distinguished biography


  • Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin
  • Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary by Joe Jackson
  • A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley by Jane Kamensky
  • Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer by Arthur Lubow
  • Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White by Michael Tisserand

PEN Translation Prize – for a book-length translation of prose into English


  • Confessions by Rabee Jaber, translated from the Arabic by Kareem James Abu-Zeid
  • Between Life and Death by Yoram Kaniuk, translated from the Hebrew by Barbara Harshav
  • Angel of Oblivion by Maja Haderlap, translated from the German by Tess Lewis
  • Justine by Iben Mondrup, translated from the Danish by Kerri A. Pierce
  • The Vegetarian by Han Kang, translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith

PEN Award for Poetry in Translation – for a book-length translation of poetry into English


  • Pearl: A New Verse Translation by The Pearl Poet, translated from the Middle English by Simon Armitage
  • Abyss by Ya Hsien, translated from the Chinese by John Balcom
  • Preludes and Fugues by Emmanuel Moses, translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker
  • In Praise of Defeat: Poems by Abdellatif Laâbi, translated from the French by Donald Nicholson-Smith
  • Absolute Solitude: Selected Poems by Dulce Maria Loynaz, translated from the Spanish by James O’Connor

Congratulations to all the nominees!