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    Here are PEN America’s 2020 literary awards longlists.

    Eleni Theodoropoulos

    December 13, 2019, 11:19am

    PEN America has just announced its literary longlists for 2020. The awards will confer over $330,000 in total to writers and translators whose exceptional literary works were published in 2019. The categories span fiction, nonfiction, poetry, biography, essay, science writing, translation, and more, and PEN prides itself on choosing books that are dynamic, diverse, and thought-provoking examples of literary excellence. The judges this year included the notable literary authors Rebecca Makkai, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Alexis Okeowo, Camille Rankine and many more. The shortlist will be announced in January 2020 and the awards ceremony will take place on March 2 2020.

    Normally we would not play favorites, but I would like to respectfully call your attention to the translation category—specifically to Beyond Babylon, the wonderful novel by Igiaba Scego, translated from the Italian by our very own editor Aaron Robertson.

    Congratulations to all the longlisted authors and translators!

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    To an author whose debut collection of short stories represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise for future work.

    Nancy Au, Spider Love Song and Other Stories (Acre Books)

    Ron A. Austin, Avery Colt is a Snake, a Thief, a Liar (Southeast Missouri State University Press)

    Ayşe Papatya Bucak, The Trojan War Museum (W. W. Norton & Company)

    Kali Fajardo-Anstine, Sabrina & Corina (One World)

    Mimi Lok, Last of Her Name (Kaya Press)

    Hadley Moore, Not Dead Yet and Other Stories (Autumn House Press)

    Beth Piatote, The Beadworkers (Counterpoint Press)

    Molly Reid, The Rapture Index: A Suburban Bestiary (BOA Editions)

    Xuan Juliana Wang, Home Remedies (Hogarth)

    Bryan Washington, Lot (Riverhead Books)



    To a debut novel of exceptional literary merit by an American author.

    Chanelle Benz, The Gone Dead (Ecco)

    Madeline Ffitch, Stay and Fight (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

    Mark Haber, Reinhardt’s Garden (Coffee House Press)

    Jamil Jan Kochai, 99 Nights in Logar (Viking)

    Tomas Moniz, Big Familia (Acre Books)

    Regina Porter, The Travelers (Hogarth)

    Melissa Rivero, The Affairs of the Falcóns (Ecco)

    Ruchika Tomar, A Prayer for Travelers (Riverhead Books)

    Madhuri Vijay, The Far Field (Grove Press)

    Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, (Penguin Press)


    PEN OPEN BOOK AWARD ($5,000)

    To an exceptional book-length work of any genre by an author of color.

    Jaswinder Bolina, The 44th of July (Omnidawn)

    Richard Chiem, King of Joy (Soft Skull Press)

    Jennine Capó Crucet, My Time Among the Whites (Picador)

    Camonghne Felix, Build Yourself a Boat (Haymarket Books)

    Carmen Giménez Smith, Be Recorder (Graywolf Press)

    Mira Jacob, Good Talk (One World)

    Maya Phillips, Erou (Four Way Books)

    Raquel Salas Rivera, While They Sleep (Under the Bed Is Another Country) (Birds, LLC)

    Maurice Carlos Ruffin, We Cast a Shadow (One World)

    Brandon Shimoda, The Grave on the Wall (City Lights Books)



    For a book-length translation of prose from any language into English published in 2018.

    Naja Marie Aidt, When Death Takes Something From You Give It Back: Carl’s Book (Coffee House Press)

    Translated from the Danish by Denise Newman

    Geneviève Damas, If You Cross the River: A Novel (Milkweed Editions)

    Translated from the French by Jody Gladding

    Natalia Ginzburg, Happiness, as Such (New Directions Publishing)

    Translated from the Italian by Minna Zallman Proctor

    Hiromi Kawakami, The Ten Loves of Nishino (Europa Editions)

    Translated from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell

    Igiaba Scego, Beyond Babylon (Two Lines Press)

    Translated from the Italian by Aaron Robertson

    Rollan Seisenbayev, The Dead Wander in the Desert (Amazon Crossing)

    Translated from the Russian by Olga Nakston and John Farndon

    Ha Seong-nan, Flowers of Mold & Other Stories (Open Letter Books)

    Translated from the Korean by Janet Hong

    Hwang Sok-yong, At Dusk (Scribe US)

    Translated from the Korean by Sora Kim-Russell

    Olga Tokarczuk, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead: A Novel (Riverhead Books)

    Translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones

    Hebe Uhart, The Scent of Buenos Aires: Stories (Archipelago Books)

    Translated from the Spanish by Maureen Shaughnessy



    For a book-length translation of poetry from any language into English published in 2018.

    Etel Adnan, Time (Nightboat Books)

    Translated from the French by Sarah Riggs

    Szilárd Borbély, Final Matters: Selected Poems, 2004-2010 (Princeton University Press)

    Translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet

    Pedro da Silveira, Poems in Absentia & Poems from The Island and the World (Tagus Press)

    Translated from the Portuguese by George Monteiro

    Sebastián de Covarrubias Horozco, Treasure of the Castilian or Spanish Language (New Directions Publishing)

    Translated from the Spanish by Janet Hendrickson

    Jorge Eduardo Eielson, Room in Rome (Cardboard House Press)

    Translated from the Spanish by David Shook

    J.V. Foix, Daybook 1918: Early Fragments (Northwestern University Press)

    Translated from the Catalan by Lawrence Venuti

    Chantal Maillard, Killing Plato (New Directions Publishing)

    Translated from the Spanish by Yvette Siegert

    Reina María Rodríguez, The Winter Garden Photograph (Ugly Duckling Presse)

    Translated from the Spanish by Kristin Dykstra and Nancy Gates Madsen

    Oswald von Wolkenstein, Songs from a Single Eye (New Directions Publishing)

    Translated from the German by Richard Sieburth

    Serhiy Zhadan, What We Live For, What We Die For: Selected Poems (Yale University Press)

    Translated from the Ukrainian by Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps



    For a collection of essays which exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature.

    Beth Alvarado, Anxious Attachments (Autumn House Press)

    Eve Babitz, I Used to Be Charming: The Rest of Eve Babitz (New York Review Books Classics)

    Lydia Davis, Essays One (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

    Deborah Fleming, Resurrection of the Wild: Meditations on Ohio’s Natural Landscape (Kent State University Press)

    Leslie Jamison, Make It Scream Make It Burn: Essays (Little, Brown and Company)

    Daniel Mendelsohn, Ecstasy and Terror: From the Greeks to Game of Thrones (New York Review Books)

    Emily Nussbaum, I Like To Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution (Random House)

    Jia Tolentino, Trick Mirror: Reflections of Self-Delusion (Random House)

    Esmé Weijun Wang, The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays (Graywolf Press)

    Damon Young, What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays (Ecco)




    For a distinguished biography of exceptional literary, narrative, and artistic merit, based on scrupulous research.

    Stephen Budiansky, Oliver Wendell Holmes: A Life in War, Law, and Ideas (W. W. Norton & Company)

    Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, Sisters and Rebels: A Struggle for the Soul of America (W. W. Norton & Company)

    Adina Hoffman, Ben Hecht: Fighting Words, Moving Pictures (Yale University Press)

    Josh Levin, The Queen: The Forgotten Life Behind an American Myth (Little, Brown and  Company)

    Michael Mewshaw, The Lost Prince: A Search for Pat Conroy (Counterpoint Press)

     Benjamin Moser, Sontag: Her Life and Work (Ecco)

    Sato Moughalian, Feast of Ashes: The Life and Art of David Ohannessian (Stanford University Press)

    Sonia Purnell, A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II (Viking)

    John Taliaferro, Grinnell: America’s Environmental Pioneer and His Restless Drive to Save the West (Liveright)

    Helen Zia, Last Boat Out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Fled Mao’s Revolution (Ballantine Books)



    For a book that exemplifies literary excellence on the subject of the physical or biological sciences and communicates complex scientific concepts to a lay audience.

    Bill Bryson, The Body: A Guide for Occupants (Doubleday)

    Patricia S. Churchland, Conscience: The Origins of Moral Intuition (W.W. Norton & Company)

    Frans de Waal, Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves (W.W. Norton & Company)

    Michael S. A. Graziano, Rethinking Consciousness: A Scientific Theory of Subjective Experience (W.W. Norton & Company)

    Elizabeth Hennessy, On the Backs of Tortoises: Darwin, the Galapagos, and the Fate of an Evolutionary Eden (Yale University Press)

    Dahr Jamail, The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption (New Press)

    Joseph LeDoux, The Deep History of Ourselves: The Four-Billion-Year Story of How We Got Conscious Brains (Viking)

    John F. Marra, Hot Carbon: Carbon 14 and a Revolution in Science (Columbia University Press)

    Nathaniel Rich, Losing Earth: A Recent History (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

    David Wallace-Wells, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming (Tim Duggan Books)

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