Small Publishers Rule Pen/Faulkner Fiction Award Shortlist

In News by Dennis Abrams

By Dennis Abrams

The PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction, one of the country’s most prestigious and, in the words of the organization, “the largest peer-juried award in the country,” announced its 2013 finalists on Wednesday.

The finalists are Amelia Gray for Threats (Farrar Straus and Giroux); Laird Hunt for Kind One (Coffee House Press), T. Geronimo Johnson for Hold It ‘Til It Hurts (Coffee House Press); Thomas Mallon for Watergate (Pantheon); and Benjamin Alire Saenz for Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club (Cinco Puntos Press).

It’s interesting (and heartening) to note the three nominations given to works from small publishers. Cinco Puntos Press, founded by writers Bobby and Lee Byrd, is a 28-year old independent publishing company in El Paso, Texas, less than three miles north of the Mexican border.  Coffee House Press, by Allan Kornblum has grown from a poetry magazine and letterpress to become “one of the premier nonprofit literary publishers in the nation.” 

The winner of the PEN/Faulkner award received $15,000; the four remaining finalist will each receive $5000.  The award will be presented in a ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., on May 4th.

According to the Los Angeles Times, three judges – authors Walter Kirn, Nelly Rosario, and A.J. Verdelle – read 350 books published in 2012, which had been submitted for consideration by 130 publishing houses. 

Previous winners include Deborah Eisenberg for The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg, Joseph O’Neill for Netherland, Richard Ford for Independence Day, and Julie Otsuka for The Buddha in the Attic.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.