2022 PEN America Literary Awards Finalists Announced


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The 2022 PEN American Literary Award Finalists have been announced! This year’s awards will confer $350,000 to writers and translators in eleven different categories that include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, biography, essay, science writing, literature in translation and more. In it’s announcement PEN describes the finalists books as “dynamic, diverse, and thought-provoking examples of literary excellence” and I’d dare anyone to disagree — this year’s lists are truly thrilling and impressive. This year’s winners will be announced at the Literary Awards Ceremony on February 28, 2022 at 8pm at The Town Hall in New York City.

2022 PEN America Literary Awards Finalists

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.

The President and The Frog by Carolina De Robertis (Knopf)

The Trees: A Novel by Percival Everett (Graywolf Press) 

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)

Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz (Grove Press)

Harrow by Joy Williams (Knopf)

PEN Open Book Award ($10,000)

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.

Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts by Rebecca Hall (Simon & Schuster)

Antiman: A Hybrid Memoir by Rajiv Mohabir (Restless Books)

Names for Light: A Family History by Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint (Graywolf Press)

Curb by Divya Victor (Nightboat Books)

White Magic by Elissa Washuta (Tin House 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.

Skinship: Stories by Yoon Choi (Knopf)

Eat the Mouth That Feeds You by Carribean Fragoza (City Lights Books)

Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz (Grove Press)

Objects of Desire: Stories by Clare Sestanovich (Knopf)

Give My Love to the Savages: Stories Chris Stuck (Amistad Press)

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.

Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi (The Overlook Press)

Dear Miss Metropolitan: A Novel by Carolyn Ferrell (Henry Holt & Company)

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois: A Novel by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers (Harper)

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

The Five Wounds: A Novel by Kirstin Valdez Quade (W.W. Norton & Company)

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.

A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib (Random House)

Homo Irrealis: Essays by André Aciman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Black Paper: Writing in a Dark Time by Teju Cole (University of Chicago Press)

These Precious Days: Essays by Ann Patchett (Harper)

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.

Yellow Rain: Poems by Mai Der Vang (Graywolf Press)

Sho by Douglas Kearney (Wave Books)

Heard-Hoard by Atsuro Riley (University of Chicago Press)

frank: sonnets by Diane Seuss (Graywolf Press)

Mutiny by Phillip B. Williams (Penguin Books)

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.

Exhausted on the Cross by Najwan Darwish (New York Review Books)
Translated from the Arabic by Kareem James Abu-Zeid

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

I Name Him Me: Selected Poems of Ma Yan, Ma Yan (Ugly Duckling Presse)
Translated from the Chinese by Stephen Nashef

Outgoing Vessel by Ursula Andkjær Olsen (Action Books)
Translated from the Danish by Katrine Øgaard Jensen

Ova Completa by Susana Thénon (Ugly Duckling Presse)
Translated from Spanish by Rebekah Smith

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.

FEM by Magda Cârneci (Deep Vellum)
Translated from the Romanian by Sean Cotter

New Year by Juli Zeh (World Editions)
Translated from the German by Alta L. Price

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

The Last One: A Novel by Fatima Daas (Other Press)
Translated from the French by Lara Vergnaud

Kaya Days: A Novel by Carl de Souza (Two Line Press)
Translated from the French by Jeffrey Zuckerman


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.

The Memory Thief: And the Secrets Behind What We Remember by Lauren Aguirre (Pegasus Books)

The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (Bold Type Books)

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

Believers: Making a Life at the End of the World by Lisa Wells (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Life’s Edge: The Search for What It Means to Be Alive by Carl Zimmer (Dutton Books)


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.

The Invention of Miracles: Language, Power, and Alexander Graham Bell’s Quest to End Deafness by Katie Booth (Simon & Schuster)

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)

Albert and the Whale: Albrecht Dürer and How Art Imagines Our World by Phillip Hoare (Pegasus Books)

The Gambler Wife: A True Story of Love, Risk, and the Woman Who Saved Dostoyevsky by Andrew D. Kaufman (Riverhead Books)

Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit (Viking)

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.

Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City by Andrea Elliot (Random House)

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

Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration by Reuben Jonathan Miller (Little Brown and Company)

Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993 by Sarah Schulman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith (Little Brown and Company)

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


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