Industry Notes: PEN America’s Finalists, Flame Tree’s Trade Imprint

In News by Porter Anderson

The PEN America competition program includes eight prizes, and one of the most highly visible is the translation honor. Others include literary science writing, biography, literary sports writing, and work by authors of color.

Some of the covers of books shortlisted in multiple award competitions by PEN America

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

A Prize For Any Language Translated into English

Finalists for the PEN Translation Prize have been announced by the newly unified PEN America to comprise:

  • The Book of Emma Reyes, Emma Reyes (Penguin), translated from the Spanish by Daniel Alarcón
  • A Horse Walks into a Bar, David Grossman (Vintage), translated from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen (the 2017 Booker International winner)
  • Out in the Open, Jesús Carrasco (Riverhead Books), translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa
  • The Impossible Fairy Tale, Han Yujoo (Graywolf Press), translated from the Korean by Janet Hong
  • Katalin Street, Magda Szabó (NYRB Classics), translated from the Hungarian by Len Rix

The annual award is given to a book-length translation of prose from any language into English published in 2017. Jurors for this prize are Eric M. B. Becker, Lisa Hayden, Jenny Wang Medina, Denise Newman, and Lara Vergnaud.

The news of the translation prize shortlist is part of a big round of competition finalists named late this month, and here are several more PEN awards programs now highlighting valuable work. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on February 20 in New York City.

You can find the full listing here. A complete listing of all the jurors is also available, and it’s here.

PEN Open Book Award

This competition recognizes “exceptional book-length work of any genre by an author of color, published in the United States since 2017. Jurors this year are Eduardo C. Corral,  Kaitlyn Greenidge, Amy Quan Barry. The finalists:

  • My Soul Looks Back: A Memoir, Jessica B. Harris (Scribner)
  • Augustown, Kei Miller (Pantheon)
  • A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa, Alexis Okeowo (Hachette)
  • Lessons on Expulsion: Poems, Erika L. Sánchez (Graywolf Press)
  • Ordinary Beast: Poems, Nicole Sealey (Ecco)
PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction

Juried this year by Mia Alvar, Rion Amilcar Scott, Justin Torres, Claire Vaye Watkins, this award is given to an author whose “debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2017—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.”  This program carries a US$25,000 purse. Its finalists:

  • Sonora, Hannah Lillith Assadi (Soho Press)
  • Black Jesus and Other Superheroes, Venita Blackburn (University of Nebraska Press)
  • History of Wolves, Emily Fridlund (Atlantic Monthly Press)
  • Her Body and Other Parties: Stories, Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf Press)
  • Sour Heart, Jenny Zhang (Lenny)
PEN/Jean Stein Book Award

Given to “the author of a book-length work of any genre for its originality, merit, and impact, and that has broken new ground by reshaping the boundaries of its form and signaling strong potential for lasting influence,” the Stein carries a US$75,000 purse. Its finalists:

  • We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, Ta-Nehisi Coates (One World)
  • White Tears, Hari Kunzru (Vintage Contemporaries/Knopf)
  • The Changeling, Victor LaValle (Spiegel & Grau)
  • Whereas, Layli Long Soldier (Graywolf Press)
  • Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News, Kevin Young (Graywolf Press)

From the new Flame Tree Press site

Flame Tree Opens Trade Book Imprint

The UK’s Flame Tree Publishing is an independent publisher of fantasy, crime, and science fiction short stories as well as nonfiction (cookbooks, lifestyle, music, and art). It was established in 1992 by HarperCollins’ managing director Nick Wells. And the company has announced that in September it will open a trade fiction imprint for book-length work, that imprint having almost the same name as the publishing house: Flame Tree Press.

A site for Flame Tree’s new Flame Tree has been set up here.

The opening group of about a dozen titles in the autumn is expected, according to promotional copy, to feature authors including Ramsey Campbell, Tim Waggoner, John Everson, Jonathan Janz, Hunter Shea, Brian Trent, David Tallerman, and Robin Triggs.

In a prepared statement, Wells is quoted, saying, “After 24 years at Flame Tree Publishing, this imprint’s story really started three years ago, when we began our short story submissions in the US. Since then we’ve built significant communities of readers and writers of genre fiction: science fiction horror, crime and fantasy.”

More information offered in the press announcement tells us that “The executive editor is Don D’Auria, based in New York, aided by the UK editorial board of Laura Bulbeck, Cat Taylor, Josie Mitchell, and Gillian Whitaker. Art director Mike Spender brings 25 years of publishing to the covers, including a long stint at HarperCollins.

“UK sales are directed by Gillian Hawkins. Follett-owned Baker & Taylor Publisher Services … will handle US sales. Flame Tree managing director Frances Bodiam will oversee all sales.”

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.