Awards: PEN’s 2022 Longlists Include International Poetry, Prose in Translation

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The 2022 longlists for the PEN America Literary Awards will confer a total of more than US$350,000 in prize winnings.

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

Eleven Awards
Poetry translated into English from Arabic, Spanish, Polish, Chinese, German, Danish, Korean, and Swedish is part of the 2022 set of longlists announced shortly before our winter break by PEN America, the United States’ chapter of PEN International.

In addition, the organization’s longlist for prose translated into English features work that has originated in Spanish, Romanian, Arabic, German, Norwegian, Chinese, and French.

The PEN Translation Prize in prose and the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation each carries a US$3,000 purse. In other instances—those that carry sponsorship names—the PEN program’s prizes can be far more remunerative.

The Jean Stein Book Award, for example, pays its winner $75,000. The PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for a Debut Short Story Collection pays $25,000. The PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award pays its winner $15,000. The PEN Open Book Award; the PEN/EO Wilson Literary Science Writing Award; the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith; and the PEN/Hemingway Award pay $10,000 each.

All told, the program is to distribute more than $350,000 in prize monies this year.

The two translation awards are part of a group of 11 sets of honors, which this year highlight work by 125 writers and translators, with five books attracting multiple categories’ longlistings. Longlisted writers for the 2022 round include Hanif Abdurraquib, Rivka Galchen, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Linda Rui Feng, Torrey Peters, Kristen Radtke, Salman Rushdie, George Saunders, and Rebecca Solnit.

Many of our readers—for whom literary translation is a key interest—will find that the translation longlists this year bring attention to a gratifying range of publishers. In many instances, translation honors can focus on a small and familiar handful of much-appreciated translation publishers but not provide visibility to many other presses operating in the translation space. In this instance, the 20 translation longlistees (prose and poetry combined) include many of the familiar faithful but also some names less frequently represented in translation awards:

  • Action Books
  • New York Review of Books
  • World Poetry Books
  • Yale University Press
  • Sublunary Editions
  • Ugly Duckling Presse
  • Open Letter Books
  • Terra Nova Press
  • New Directions
  • Deep Vellum
  • Transit Books
  • Amazon Crossing
  • World Editions
  • HarperVia
  • Columbia University Press
  • Other Press
  • Two Line Press

Organizers also point out that 53 percent of the longlisted titles come from independent and university presses.

The program has been in operation since 1963. It utilizes a discrete set of jurors assigned to each prize.

2022 PEN America Literary Awards Longlists

PEN Translation Prize (US$3,000)

This recognition is for a book-length translation of prose in English from any other language.

Jurors: Almiro Andrade, Mayada Ibrahim, Barbara Ofosu-Somuah, Sharon E. Rhodes

  • The Divorce, César Aira (New Directions)
    Translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews
  • FEM, Magda Cârneci (Deep Vellum)
    Translated from the Romanian by Sean Cotter
  • The Touch System, Alejandra Costamagna (Transit Books)
    Translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman
  • I’m in Seattle, Where Are You?: A Memoir, Mortada Gzar (Amazon Crossing)
    Translated from the Arabic by William Hutchins
  • New Year, Juli Zeh (World Editions)
    Translated from the German by Alta L. Price
  • Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine, Klara Hveberg (HarperVia)
    Translated from the Norwegian by Allison McCullough
  • Migratory Birds, Mariana Oliver (Transit Books)
    Translated from the Spanish by Julia Sanches
  • Faraway, Lo Yi-Chin (Columbia University Press)
    Translated from the Chinese by Jeremy Tiang
  • The Last One: A Novel, Fatima Daas (Other Press)
    Translated from the French by Lara Vergnaud
  • Kaya Days: A Novel, Carl de Souza (Two Line Press)
    Translated from the French by Jeffrey Zuckerman

PEN Award for Poetry in Translation (US$3,000)

This award is for a book-length translation of poetry into English. Any language can originate a work nominated.

Jurors: Caro Carter, Michael Favala Goldman, Parisa Saranj

  • Exhausted on the Cross, Najwan Darwish (New York Review Books)
    Translated from the Arabic by Kareem James Abu-Zeid
  • Edinburgh Notebook, Valerie Mejer Caso (Action Books)
    Translated from the Spanish by Michelle Gil-Montero
  • Everything I Don’t Know, Jerzy Ficowski (World Poetry Books)
    Translated from the Polish by Jennifer Grotz and Piotr Sommer
  • Words as Grain, Duo Duo (Yale University Press)
    Translated from the Chinese by Lucas Klein
  • The Voices & Other Poems, Rainer Maria Rilke (Sublunary Editions)
    Translated from the German by Kristofor Minta
  • I Name Him Me: Selected Poems of Ma Yan, Ma Yan (Ugly Duckling Presse)
    Translated from the Chinese by Stephen Nashef
  • Outgoing Vessel, Ursula Andkjær Olsen (Action Books)
    Translated from the Danish by Katrine Øgaard Jensen
  • Ova Completa, Susana Thénon (Ugly Duckling Presse)
    Translated from Spanish by Rebekah Smith
  • Catcalling, Lee Soho (Open Letter Books)
    Translated from Korean by Soje
  • Damascus, Atlantis, Marie Silkeberg (Terra Nova Press)
    Translated from the Swedish by Kelsi Vanada

PEN/Jean Stein Book Award (US$75,000)

This award goes to a book-length work of any genre “for its originality, merit, and impact,” deemed to have “broken new ground by reshaping the boundaries of its form and signaling strong potential for lasting influence.”

Jurors: Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Angie Cruz, Maurice Manning, Steph Opitz

  • The President and The Frog, Carolina De Robertis (Knopf)
  • The Trees: A Novel, Percival Everett (Graywolf Press)
  • Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch: A Novel, Rivka Galchen (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • The Kissing Bug: A True Story of a Family, an Insect, and a Nation’s Neglect of a Deadly Disease, Daisy Hernández (Tin House Books)
  • Palmares, Gayl Jones (Beacon Press)
  • Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness, Kristen Radtke (Pantheon)
  • Milk Blood Heat, Dantiel W. Moniz (Grove Press)
  • White Magic, Elissa Washuta (Tin House Books)
  • Harrow, Joy Williams (Knopf)
  • Mutiny, Phillip B. Williams (Penguin Books)

PEN Open Book Award ($10,000)

This award is meant to be given to “an exceptional book-length work of any literary genre by an author of color.”

Jurors: Jaquira Díaz, Rigoberto González, Sequoia Nagamatsu, Khadijah Queen

  • Libertie: A Novel, Kaitlyn Greenidge (Algonquin Books)
  • Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts, Rebecca Hall (Simon & Schuster)
  • The Kissing Bug: A True Story of a Family, an Insect, and a Nation’s Neglect of a Deadly Disease, Daisy Hernández (Tin House Books)
  • Antiman: A Hybrid Memoir, Rajiv Mohabir (Restless Books)
  • Names for Light: A Family History, Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint (Graywolf Press
  • Transversal: Poems, Urayoán Noel (University of Arizona Press)
  • Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America’s Cheap Goods, Amelia Pang (Algonquin Books)
  • No Gods, No Monsters: A Novel, Cadwell Turnbull (Blackstone Publishing)
  • Curb, Divya Victor (Nightboat Books)
  • White Magic, Elissa Washuta (Tin House Books)

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize ($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.”

Jurors: Ling Ma, Manuel Muñoz, Oscar Villalon

  • Site Fidelity: Stories, Claire Boyles (W.W Norton & Company)
  • Skinship: Stories, Yoon Choi (Knopf)
  • Love Like That: Stories, Emma Duffy-Comparone (Henry Holt & Company)
  • Eat the Mouth That Feeds You, Carribean Fragoza (City Lights Books)
  • What Isn’t Remembered: Stories, Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry (University of Nebraska Press)
  • Mad Prairie: Stories and a Novella, Kate McIntyre (University of Georgia Press)
  • Milk Blood Heat, Dantiel W. Moniz (Grove Press)
  • The Rock Eaters: Stories, Brenda Peynado, (Penguin Books)
  • Objects of Desire: Stories, Clare Sestanovich, (Knopf)
  • Give My Love to the Savages: Stories, Chris Stuck (Amistad Press)

PEN/Hemingway Award for a Debut Novel ($10,000)

This prize goes to a debut novel “of exceptional literary merit” by an American author.

Jurors: Zeyn Joukhadar, Téa Obreht, Daniel Torday

  • Burnt Sugar, Avni Doshi (The Overlook Press)
  • Swimming Back to Trout River: A Novel, Linda Rui Feng (Simon & Schuster)
  • Dear Miss Metropolitan: A Novel, Carolyn Ferrell (Henry Holt & Company)
  • The Recent East: A Novel, Thomas Grattan (MCD)
  • The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois: A Novel, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers (Harper)
  • Future Feeling: A Novel, Joss Lake (Soft Skull Press)
  • Bed Stuy: A Love Story, Jerry McGill (Little A)
  • Detransition, Baby: A Novel, Torrey Peters (One World)
  • The Five Wounds: A Novel, Kirstin Valdez Quade (W.W. Norton & Company)
  • Nightbitch: A Novel, Rachel Yoder (Doubleday)

PEN/Diamonstein-Speilvogel Award for an Essay ($15,000)

This award recognizes “a seasoned writer whose collection of essays is an expansion on their corpus of work and preserves the distinguished art form of the essay.”

Jurors: Jason DeParle, Hua Hsu, Marilynne Robinson

  • A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance, Hanif Abdurraqib (Random House)
  • Homo Irrealis: Essays, André Aciman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Black Paper: Writing in a Dark Time, Teju Cole (University of Chicago Press)
  • Cranial Fracking, Ian Frazier, (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Endings & Beginnings: Family Essays, DeWitt Henry (MadHat Press)
  • Nine Nasty Words: English in the Gutter: Then, Now, and Forever, John McWhorter (Avery)
  • These Precious Days: Essays, Ann Patchett (Harper)
  • Graceland, at Last: Notes on Hope and Heartache from the American South, Margaret Renkl (Milkweed Editions)
  • Languages of Truth, Salman Rushdie, (Random House)
  • A Swim in a Pond in the RainIn Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life, George Saunders (Random House)

PEN/Voelcker Award for a Poetry Collection (US$5,000)

This award is for a poet “whose distinguished collection of poetry represents a notable and accomplished literary presence.” 

Jurors: Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, Lia Purpura, Safiya Sinclair

  • Pilgrim Bell: Poems, Kaveh Akbar (Graywolf Press)
  • The Wild Fox of Yemen: Poems, Threa Almontaser (Graywolf Press)
  • Yellow Rain: Poems, Mai Der Vang (Graywolf Press)
  • Reparations Now!, Ashley M. Jones (Hub City Press)
  • Sho, Douglas Kearney (Wave Books)
  • Cutlish, Rajiv Mohabir (Four Way Books)
  • Heard-Hoard, Atsuro Riley (University of Chicago Press)
  • frank: sonnets, Diane Seuss (Graywolf Press)
  • Mutiny, Phillip B. Williams (Penguin Books)
  • How to Not Be Afraid of Everything, Jane Wong (Alice James Books)

PEN/EO Wilson Literary Science Writing Award (US$10,000)

The EO Wilson is awarded for a work “that exemplifies literary excellence on the subject of the physical or biological sciences and communicates complex scientific concepts to a lay audience.”

Jurors: Jonathan Safran Foer, Michele Harper, Lauren Redniss

  • The Memory Thief: And the Secrets Behind What We Remember — A Medical Mystery, Lauren Aguirre (Pegasus Books)
  • This Is the Voice, John Colapinto (Simon & Schuster)
  • Holding Back the River: The Struggle Against Nature on America’s Waterways, Tyler J. Kelley (Avid Reader Press)
  • Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, Avi Loeb (Mariner Books)
  • The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (Bold Type Books)
  • Fox & I: An Uncommon Friendship, Catherine Raven (Spiegel & Grau)
  • Second Nature: Scenes from a World Remade, Nathaniel Rich (MCD)
  • Count Down: How Our Modern World is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race, Shanna H. Swan (Scribner)
  • Believers: Making a Life at the End of the World, Lisa Wells (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Life’s Edge: The Search for What It Means to Be Alive, Carl Zimmer (Dutton Books)

PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography (US$5,000)

This award is for “a biography of exceptional literary, narrative, and artistic merit, based on scrupulous research.”

Jurors: Luke Dittrich, Paul Golob, Imani Perry

  • The Invention of Miracles: Language, Power, and Alexander Graham Bell’s Quest to End Deafness, Katie Booth (Simon & Schuster)
  • Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II, Daniel James Brown (Viking)
  • King of the Blues: The Rise and Reign of B.B King, Daniel de Visé (Atlantic Monthly Press)
  • All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days: The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler, Rebecca Donner (Little Brown and Company)
  • Albert and the Whale: Albrecht Dürer and How Art Imagines Our World , Phillip Hoare (Pegasus Books)
  • The Gambler Wife: A True Story of Love, Risk, and the Woman Who Saved Dostoyevsky, Andrew D. Kaufman (Riverhead Books)
  • Two-Way Mirror: The Life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Fiona Sampson (W.W Norton and Company)
  • Orwell’s Roses, Rebecca Solnit (Viking)
  • Lady Bird Johnson: Hiding in Plain Sight, Julia Sweig (Random House)
  • The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock: An Anatomy of the Master of Suspense, Edward White (W.W Norton and Company)

PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction (US10,000)

The John Kenneth Galbraith Award recognizes “a distinguished book of general nonfiction possessing notable literary merit and critical perspective that illuminates important contemporary issues.”

Jurors: Emma Copley Eisenberg, Dr. K. Tsianina Lomawaima, Chanel Miller, Dagmawi Woubshet

  • Pure America: Eugenics and the Making of Modern Virginia, Elizabeth Catte (Belt Publishing)
  • Children Under Fire: An American Crisis, John Woodrow Cox (Ecco Press)
  • Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City, Andrea Elliott (Random House)
  • The Ravine: A Family, a Photograph, a Holocaust Massacre Revealed, Wendy Lower (Mariner Books)
  • All that She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family’s Keepsake, Tiya Miles (Random House)
  • Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration, Reuben Jonathan Miller (Little Brown and Company)
  • Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America’s Cheap Goods, Amelia Pang (Algonquin Books)
  • Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, Patrick Radden Keefe (Doubleday)
  • Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993, Sarah Schulman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America, Clint Smith (Little Brown and Company)

The next step in this program’s process is an announcement later this month of shortlistees–called finalists in this award’s lexicon. And the program has announced “an in-person ceremony in late February, which will feature live announcements of the winners.”

Whether that plan for an in-person ceremony can be fulfilled, of course, remains to be seen, but we can all hope that it will be possible, pending the status of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and the virus’ variants at that point.


More from Publishing Perspectives on PEN America is here, more on PEN International is here, more on translation and translators is here, and more on international publishing and literary awards is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he 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.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (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.

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