The PEN/Faulkner Foundation has unveiled the shortlist for its annual literary award for fiction.

Deesha Philyaw was named a finalist for her celebrated fiction debut, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, published by West Virginia University Press. Philyaw’s book was previously a finalist for the National Book Award and the Story Prize.

Matthew Salesses’ Disappear Doppelgänger Disappear, published by Amazon’s Little A Books, made the shortlist, along with another non–Big Five title, Steve Wiegenstein’s Scattered Lights (Cornerpost).

Robin Wasserman was named a finalist for Mother Daughter Widow Wife (Scribner), as was Rufi Thorpe for The Knockout Queen (Knopf).

Charles Finch, Bernice L. McFadden, and Alexi Zentner, the judging panel for the prize, praised the authors.

“The five finalists for this year's PEN/Faulkner Award are very different, their dazzling voices restrained, chaotic, tender, and funny in turn,” the judges said on Twitter. “But all five are radical truth-seekers. In their worlds, we return to the most essential questions about how we live and why: the questions that our present moment in history has prompted, too.”

The PEN/Faulkner was first awarded in 1981. Previous winners have included E.L. Doctorow’s Billy Bathgate, Ha Jin’s Waiting, and Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers.

The winner of the award will be announced on April 6.

Michael Schaub is a Texas-based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.