Saeed Jones and Rob Spillman Among Winners of the 2015 PEN Literary Awards

The PEN America Center has just announced several of the winners of this year’s PEN literary awards. Among the winners are Buzzfeed Literary Editor Saeed Jones for his poetry collection Prelude to Bruise, Tin House editor Rob Spillman for editing, and author Anna Whitelock for her biography The Queen’s Bed: An Intimate History of Elizabeth’s Court.

Not all of the award winners have been announced though. Several awards, such as PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and PEN/Fusion Emerging Writers Prize will only be publicly announced at the June 8th ceremony. The shortlists for those awards are listed below.

Congrats to all the winners!


PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award ($10,000): For a book of literary nonfiction on the subject of the physical or biological sciences published in 2014.

JUDGES: Sue Halpern, Marie Myung-Ok Lee, and Carl Zimmer

WINNER: War of the Whales: A True Story (Simon & Schuster), Joshua Horwitz

PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction ($10,000): To an author of a distinguished book of general nonfiction possessing notable literary merit and critical perspective and illuminating important contemporary issues which has been published in 2013 or 2014.

JUDGES: Andrew Blechman, Paul Elie, Azadeh Moaveni, Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, and Paul Reyes

WINNER: Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital (Crown), Sheri Fink

PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000): For a distinguished biography published in 2014.

JUDGES: Emily Bernard, Nicholas Fox Weber, and Jon Meacham

WINNER: The Queen’s Bed: An Intimate History of Elizabeth’s Court (Sarah Crichton Books/ Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Anna Whitelock

PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry ($5,000): For an emerging American poet showing promise of further literary achievement.

JUDGES: Marie Howe, Mary Szybist, and Craig Morgan Teicher

WINNER: Saeed Jones for Prelude to Bruise (Coffee House Press)

PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship ($5,000): For an author of children’s or young-adult fiction to complete a book-length work-in-progress.

JUDGES: Viola Canales, Selene Castrovilla, and Elizabeth Levy

WINNER: Stephanie Keuhn for The Pragmatist

PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): For a writer whose body of work represents an exceptional contribution to the field.

JUDGES: Mike Barnicle, Franklin Foer, and Selena Roberts

WINNER: Bob Ryan

PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000): For a book-length translation of poetry into English published in 2014.

JUDGE: Ana Božičević

WINNER: I Am the Beggar of the World (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), translated from the Pashto by Eliza Griswold

PEN Translation Prize ($3,000): For a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2014.

JUDGES: Heather Cleary, Lucas Klein, Tess Lewis, and Allison Markin Powell

WINNER: Baboon by Naja Marie Aidt (Two Lines Press), translated from the Danish by Denise Newman

PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Awards ($7,500 and $2,500): Three awards which honor a Master American Dramatist, American Playwright in Mid-Career, and Emerging American Playwright.

JUDGES: Kathleen Chalfant, Ellen McLaughlin, and Adam Rapp

Master American Dramatist

WINNER: Tina Howe

American Playwright in Mid-Career ($7,500)

WINNER: Anne Washburn

Emerging American Playwright ($2,500)

WINNER: Jennifer Blackmer

PEN/Nora Magid Award for Editing ($2,500): For a magazine editor whose high literary taste has, throughout his or her career, contributed significantly to the excellence of the publication he or she edits.

JUDGES: Christopher Castellani, Carmela Ciuraru, and Bill Clegg

WINNER: Rob Spillman for Tin House

PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation: For a translator whose career has demonstrated a commitment to excellence through the body of his or her work.

JUDGES: Selected by the PEN Translation Committee

WINNER: Burton Watson


PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction ($25,000): To an author whose debut work — a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2014 — represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.

JUDGES: Caroline Fraser, Katie Kitamura, Paul La Farge, and Victor LaValle

The winner will be announced at the 2015 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on June 8


The UnAmericans (W. W. Norton & Company), Molly Antopol

Ruby (Hogarth), Cynthia Bond

Redeployment (Penguin Press), Phil Klay

The Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Jack Livings

Love Me Back (Doubleday), Merritt Tierce

PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000): For a book of essays published in 2014 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature.

JUDGES: Diane Johnson, Dahlia Lithwick, Vijay Seshadri, and Mark Slouka

The winner will be announced at the 2015 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on June 8


Moral Imagination (Princeton University Press), David Bromwich

Theater of Cruelty (New York Review Books), Ian Buruma

Loitering (Tin House Books), Charles D’Ambrosio

The Empathy Exams (Graywolf Press), Leslie Jamison

Limber (Sarabande Books), Angela Pelster

PEN/Fusion Emerging Writers Prize ($10,000): For a promising young writer under the age of 35 for an unpublished work of nonfiction that addresses a global and/or multicultural issue.

JUDGES: John Freeman, Roxane Gay, and Cristina Henríquez

WINNER: The winner will be announced later this month.­­­

PEN Open Book Award ($5,000): For an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2014.

JUDGES: R. Erica Doyle, W. Ralph Eubanks, and Chinelo Okparanta

The winner will be announced at the 2015 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on June 8


An Unnecessary Woman (Grove Press), Rabih Alameddine

Every Day Is for the Thief (Random House), Teju Cole

An Untamed State (Black Cat/ Grove Atlantic), Roxane Gay

Citizen (Graywolf Press), Claudia Rankine

The City Son (Soho Press), Samrat Upadhyay

PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants ($2,000-$4,000): To support the translation of book-length works into English.

JUDGES: Esther Allen, Mitzi Angel, Peter Blackstock, Howard Goldblatt, Sara Khalili, Michael F. Moore*, Declan Spring, and Alex Zucker (*Voting Chair of the PEN/Heim Advisory Board)

WINNER: Grant recipients will be announced later this month.

More Like This

At the National Book Awards, Writers Advocate for a Ceasefire and Free Speech

Justin Torres won the fiction prize, and Oprah spoke out against book bans

Nov 16 - Jo Lou

Announcing the 2023 Shortlist for the Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction

The $25,000 prize, in its second year, celebrates book-length works of imaginative fiction

Jul 11 - Leah Schnelbach

Predicting the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

This year’s top contenders for the most prestigious award of American literature

Apr 28 - Bradley Sides
Thank You!