The New York City–based PEN American Center has announced the winners of the 2014 PEN Literary Awards. The annual awards honor emerging and established writers in a range of genres, including poetry, fiction, biography, children’s literature, sports writing, science writing, translation, and drama. This year PEN will award nearly $150,000 in prize money.
“Celebrating the written word is an essential part of defending it,” said PEN President Peter Goodwin, “and it is through PEN’s literary awards that we continue to honor some of the most exceptional books and bodies of work that free expression makes possible.” PEN has awarded its literary awards for over 50 years.
James Wolcott won the $10,000 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay for his essay collection Critical Mass (Doubleday). Geoff Dyer, Stanley Fish, Ariel Levy, and Cheryl Strayed judged. The annual award is given for an essay collection published in the previous year that exemplifies the dignity and esteem the essay form imparts to literature.
Dr. Carl Hart won the $10,000 PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award for High Price (Harper). Akiko Busch, Rivka Galchen, and Eileen Pollack judged. The annual award is given for a book of literary nonfiction published in the previous year on the subject of the physical or biological sciences.
Ruth Ellen Kocher and Nina McConigley both won the $5,000 PEN Open Book Award, given for an exceptional book published in the previous year and written by an author of color. Kocher won for her poetry collection domina Un/blued (Tupelo Press); McConigley won for her short story collection Cowboys and East Indians (FiveChapters Books). Catherine Chung, Randa Jarrar, and Monica Youn judged.
Frank Bidart won the $5,000 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, which is given biennially to a poet whose distinguished and growing body of work to date represents a notable and accomplished presence in American literature. Peg Boyers, Toi Derricotte, and Rowan Ricardo Phillips judged.
Karen Emmerich and Edmund Keeley won the $3,000 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation for Diaries of Exile (Archipelago Books), a poetry collection by the Greek poet, Yannis Ritsos. Kimiko Hahn judged. The annual award is given for a book-length translation of poetry into English published in the previous year.
Joanne Turnbull and Nikolai Formozov won the $3,000 PEN Translation Prize for their translation from the Russian of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s short story collection Autobiography of a Corpse (New York Review of Books). Ann Goldstein, Becka McKay, and Katherine Silver judged. The annual award is given for a book-length translation of prose into English published in the previous year.
The winners will be honored at PEN’s annual literary awards ceremony, held this year on September 29 at the New School in New York City. At the ceremony, PEN will announce the winners of the $25,000 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and the $25,000 PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction. Ron Childress, who won the $25,000 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction for his unpublished novel And West is West, will also be honored at the ceremony.