Winners emerge in the 2023 PEN America Literary Awards

PEN America, which celebrates its 100 year anniversary this year, has announced the 2023 PEN American Literary Award Winners.

Presented live at the PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony on March 2, at The Town Hall in New York City, this year’s awards conferred $350,000 to writers and translators in 11 different categories that include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, biography, essay, science writing, literature in translation, and more. 

Hosted by actor, author, and former Obama White House aide Kal Penn, this year’s lifetime achievement awards were given to comedian and author Tina Fey, writer Vinod Kumar Shukl, considered one of the greatest contemporary writers in the Hindi language and acclaimed playwright Erika Dickerson-Despenza. 

There were 1,744 total entries and this year’s winners continue the PEN American tradition of honouring a diverse and exceptional group of writers and translators from all over this country and the world, including multiple wins for Indigenous authors; a win for translator Tiffany Tsao, for her translation of one of Indonesia’s most prominent writers; Budi Darma; and other thrilling wins.

Percival Everett, the author of over 30 books since his debut was released in 1983, won the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award. 

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the PEN Translation Prize, the first of the prizes to be presented 60 years ago. Actor, author, and translator Molly Ringwald presented the translation prizes. This year’s awards honoured translations of books by authors from 20 different countries and translators working in more than a dozen languages.

See the winners below: 

PEN/Jean Stein Book Award ($75,000)

Winner: Dr. No by Percival Everett (Graywolf Press)

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection ($25,000)

Winner: Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty (Tin House Books)

PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel ($10,000)

Winner: Calling For a Blanket Dance by Oscar Hokeah (Algonquin Books)

PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000)

Winner: The Loose Pearl by Paula Ilabaca Nuñez, translated from Spanish by Daniel Borzutzky (Coimpress)

PEN Translation Prize ($3,000)

Winner: People from Bloomington by Budi Darma, translated from Indonesian by Tiffany Tsao (Penguin Classics)

PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($15,000)

Winner: A Left-Handed Woman by Judith Thurman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

PEN Open Book Award ($10,000)

Winner: The Black Period by Hafizah Augustus Geter (Random House)

PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

Winner: Heartbreak by Florence Williams (W. W. Norton & Company)

PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry Collection

Winner: To The Realization of Perfect Helplessness by Robin Coste Lewis (Penguin Random House)

PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000)

Winner: Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm by Dan Charnas (MCD)


Winner: The Inheritors: An Intimate Portrait of South Africa’s Racial Reckoning by Eve Fairbanks (Simon & Schuster)


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