PEN America announced the finalists for their annual literary awards Wednesday, with Kawai Strong Washburn, Raven Leilani, Douglas Stuart, and C Pam Zhang among the authors up for the prestigious prizes.
Washburn’s novel Sharks in the Time of Saviors scored two nominations, for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award and the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel. Washburn is only the second author in the history of the awards to be named a finalist twice in one year.
Other finalists for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, given to a groundbreaking book of any genre, include Anthony Cody’s Borderland Apocrypha, Akwaeke Emezi’s The Death of Vivek Oji, Ross Gay’s Be Holding, and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore’s The Freezer Door.
Leilani’s Kirkus Prize-winning Luster, Stuart’s Booker Prize-winning Shuggie Bain, and Zhang’s How Much of These Hills Is Gold were all named finalists for the Pen/Hemingway Award, along with Washburn’s novel and Maisy Card’s These Ghosts Are Family.
The finalists for the PEN Open Book Award, given to a book of any genre by an author of color are Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge’s A Treatise on Stars, Hafizah Geter’s Un-American, S*an D. Henry-Smith’s Wild Peach, Asako Serizawa’s Inheritors, and Souvankham Thammavongsa’s Giller Prize-winning How to Pronounce Knife.
The winners of the prizes will be announced at a virtual ceremony on April 8. A full list of the finalists is available at PEN America’s website.
Michael Schaub is a Texas-based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.