This week two literary organizations with an interest in writing and social justice honored authors with an array of awards. The Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the PEN American Center's Literary Awards recognized the work of writers including Anne Carson, Don DeLillo, Dave Eggers, Marilyn Hacker, and Marlon James.
James won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize in fiction, given in recognition of a work that promotes global understanding, for his novel The Book of Night Women (Riverhead Books), and Eggers was awarded the prize in nonfiction for Zeitoun (McSweeney's Books). Each received ten thousand dollars. The runners up, who each received one thousand dollars, are Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for her story collection The Thing Around Your Neck (Knopf) and, in nonfiction, Justine Hardy for In the Valley of Mist (Free Press).
"From religious discrimination and immigration to racism and xenophobia, this year’s winners tackle challenging issues which are too often debated with sound bites and rhetoric only,” said Sharon Rab, chair of the prize, which will be presented on November 7 in Dayton, Ohio. “With wisdom, grace, and humanity, these books deliver much-needed relief from the political discourse, offering light instead of heat, and hope rather than despair.”
Over on the east coast, PEN American Center awarded Pulitzer Prize–winner Paul Harding received the thirty-five-thousand-dollar PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers for his debut novel, Tinkers (Bellevue Literary Press). The twenty-five-thousand-dollar PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction went to Don DeLillo, and Susan Choi won the ten-thousand-dollar award for a midcareer fiction writer, the PEN/W.G. Sebald Award. Marilyn Hacker won the five-thousand-dollar PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, given to recognize a distinguished body of work.
Receiving three thousand dollars each are Anne Carson, who won the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation for her translation from the Greek of An Oresteia (Faber and Faber), and Michael Henry Heim, who won the PEN Translation Prize for his translation from the Dutch of Wonder by Hugo Claus (Archipelago Books). The one-thousand-dollar Open Book Award (formerly the Beyond Margins Award) in poetry went to Sherwin Bitsui for his collection Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press).
The PEN Literary Award winners will be feted on October 13 in New York City.
In the video below, Eggers discusses the experience of the New Orleans man and his family whose story he adapted in his winning book.