Ruchika Tomar has won the 2020 PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel, the literary organization PEN America announced on Monday.
Tomar won the award for her novel A Prayer for Travelers, which follows a teenage girl trying to locate her missing friend, who has suddenly disappeared. The award comes with a $25,000 cash prize, underwritten by the Hemingway family and the Ernest Hemingway Foundation.
The judging panel for the prize praised Tomar’s book as “a remarkable piece of writing, astute in style and structure and also in the story that it tells. Even more, the novel pushes back against our preconceptions, shifting fluidly in time to evoke a sense of the floating nature of existence, especially for characters such as these, who find themselves, in nearly every way that matters, having to reckon with what it means to live on the periphery.”
“Tomar is an exquisite writer, and A Prayer for Travelers is marked by a deft and deeply rendered sense of place,” the judges wrote.
Tomar will receive the award at a ceremony in Boston, but the date is undetermined at this point.
Michael Schaub is a Texas-based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.