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2022 PEN American Literary Award Winners

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The 2022 PEN American Literary Award Winners have been announced! This year’s awards conferred $350,000 to writers and translators in eleven different categories that include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, biography, essay, science writing, literature in translation, and more. The winners were announced live at the PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony on February 28, 2022, at The Town Hall in New York City, hosted by comedian and author Seth Myers.

This year’s lifetime achievement awards were given to author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, screenwriter Elaine May, and playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury.

As part of the event, PEN America spotlighted the recent wave of exclusion and censorship sweeping across American classrooms, school boards, and statehouses and asked guests and viewers to support banned books and defend the freedom to read. The ceremony was also followed by a candlelight vigil in a show of solidarity with Ukrainian writers.

2022 PEN America Literary Award Winners

PEN/JEAN STEIN BOOK AWARD ($75,000)

This award is given to a book-length work of any genre for its originality, merit, and impact, which has broken new ground by reshaping the boundaries of its form and signaling strong potential for lasting influence. And this year’s judges are Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Angie Cruz, Maurice Manning, and Steph Opitz.

Winner: The Kissing Bug: A True Story of a Family, an Insect, and a Nation’s Neglect of a Deadly Disease by Daisy Hernández (Tin House Books)

PEN Open Book Award ($10,00)

This award is given to an exceptional book-length work of any literary genre by an author of color. And this year’s judges are Jaquira Díaz, Rigoberto González, Sequoia Nagamatsu, and Khadijah Queen.

Winner: Curb by Divya Victor (Nightboat Books)

PEN/ROBERT W. BINGHAM PRIZE FOR DEBUT SHORT STORY COLLECTION ($25,000)

This award is given to an author whose debut collection of short stories represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise for future work. And this year’s judges are Ling Ma, Manuel Muñoz, and Oscar Villalon.

Winner: Skinship: Stories by Yoon Choi (Knopf)

PEN/HEMINGWAY AWARD FOR DEBUT NOVEL ($10,000)

This award is given to a debut novel of exceptional literary merit by an American author. And this year’s judges are Zeyn Joukhadar, Téa Obreht, and Daniel Torday.

Winner: Detransition, Baby: A Novel by Torrey Peters (One World)

PEN/DIAMONSTEIN-SPIELVOGEL AWARD FOR THE ART OF THE ESSAY ($15,000)

This award is given to a seasoned writer whose collection of essays is an expansion on their corpus of work and preserves the distinguished art form of the essay. And this year’s judges are Jason DeParle, Hua Hsu, and Marilynne Robinson.

Winner: Graceland, at Last: Notes on Hope and Heartache from the American South by Margaret Renkl (Milkweed Editions)

PEN/VOELCKER AWARD FOR POETRY COLLECTION

This award is given to a poet whose distinguished collection of poetry represents a notable and accomplished literary presence. This year’s judges are Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, Lia Purpura, and Safiya Sinclair.

Winner: frank: sonnets by Diane Seuss (Graywolf Press)

PEN AWARD FOR POETRY IN TRANSLATION ($3,000)

This award is given to a book-length translation of poetry from any language into English. And this year’s judges are Caro Carter, Michael Favala Goldman, and Parisa Saranj.

Winner: Everything I Don’t Know by Jerzy Ficowski (World Poetry Books)
Translated from the Polish by Jennifer Grotz and Piotr Sommer

PEN TRANSLATION PRIZE ($3,000)

This award is given to a book-length translation of prose from any language into English. And this year’s judges are Almiro Andrade, Mayada Ibrahim, Barbara Ofosu-Somuah, and Sharon E. Rhodes.

Winner: Migratory Birds by Mariana Oliver (Transit Books) Translated from the Spanish by Julia Sanches

PEN/E.O. WILSON LITERARY SCIENCE WRITING AWARD

This award is given to a work that exemplifies literary excellence on the subject of the physical or biological sciences and communicates complex scientific concepts to a lay audience. And this year’s judges are Jonathan Safran Foer, Michele Harper, and Lauren Redniss.

Winner: Fox & I: An Uncommon Friendship by Catherine Raven (Spiegel & Grau)

PEN/JACQUELINE BOGRAD WELD AWARD FOR BIOGRAPHY

This award is given to a biography of exceptional literary, narrative, and artistic merit, based on scrupulous research. And this year’s judges are Luke Dittrich, Paul Golob, and Imani Perry.

Winner: All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days: The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler by Rebecca Donner (Little Brown and Company)

PEN/JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH AWARD FOR NONFICTION

This award is given to a distinguished book of general nonfiction possessing notable literary merit and critical perspective that illuminates important contemporary issues. And this year’s judges are Emma Copley Eisenberg, Dr. K. Tsianina Lomawaima, Chanel Miller, and Dagmawi Woubshet.

Winner: All that She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family’s Keepsake by Tiya Miles (Random House)


Looking for even more great recommendations? Check out the complete 2022 PEN America Literary Awards Longlists.

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