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2022 PEN America Literary Awards Longlists Announced

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Rebecca Hussey


Rebecca holds a PhD in English and is a professor at Norwalk Community College in Connecticut. She teaches courses in composition, literature, and the arts. When she’s not reading or grading papers, she’s hanging out with her husband and son and/or riding her bike and/or buying books. She can't get enough of reading and writing about books, so she writes the bookish newsletter "Reading Indie," focusing on small press books and translations. Newsletter: Reading Indie Twitter: @ofbooksandbikes

PEN America has announced its 2022 Literary Awards longlists, with awards in eleven different categories. The 2022 prize offers winners across categories over $350,000 total. Categories include debut short story collections and novels, essay and poetry collections, works in translation, science writing, biography, and general nonfiction, as well as awards for the best innovative, boundary-defying book and best book by an author of color.

PEN America is a nonprofit organization that works to defend free speech and expression in the United States and worldwide.

The longlists for this award are among the most diverse out there. These lists include around 50% authors of color and approaching 60% women and non cis-male authors. Nearly 50% of the books come from small and independent presses.

White Magic cover image

Three books appear twice on these lists: White Magic by Elissa Washuta, The Kissing Bug by Daisy Hernández, and Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz.

The finalists for these awards will be announced in January 2022. Now take a look at the lists!

PEN/Jean Stein Book Award ($75,000)

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

Judges for this award are Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Angie Cruz, Maurice Manning, and Steph Opitz.

The President and The Frog by Carolina De Robertis (Knopf)

The Trees: A Novel by Percival Everett (Graywolf Press) 

Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch: A Novel by 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 by Daisy Hernández (Tin House Books)

Palmares by Gayl Jones (Beacon Press)

Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness by Kristen Radtke (Pantheon)

Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz (Grove Press)

White Magic by Elissa Washuta (Tin House Books)

Harrow by Joy Williams (Knopf)

Mutiny by Phillip B. Williams (Penguin Books)

PEN Open Book Award ($10,000)

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

Judges for this award are Jaquira Díaz, Rigoberto González, Sequoia Nagamatsu, Khadijah Queen.

Libertie: A Novel by Kaitlyn Greenidge (Algonquin Books)

Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts by Rebecca Hall (Simon & Schuster)

The Kissing Bug: A True Story of a Family, an Insect, and a Nation’s Neglect of a Deadly Disease by Daisy Hernández (Tin House Books)

Antiman: A Hybrid Memoir by Rajiv Mohabir (Restless Books)

Names for Light: A Family History by Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint (Graywolf Press)

Transversal: Poems by Urayoán Noel (University of Arizona Press)

Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America’s Cheap Goods by Amelia Pang (Algonquin Books)

No Gods, No Monsters: A Novel by Cadwell Turnbull (Blackstone Publishing)

Curb by Divya Victor (Nightboat Books)

White Magic by Elissa Washuta (Tin House Books)


This award is given to “an author whose debut collection of short stories represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise for future work.”

Judges for this award are Ling Ma, Manuel Muñoz, and Oscar Villalon.

Site Fidelity: Stories by Claire Boyles (W.W Norton & Company)

Skinship: Stories by Yoon Choi (Knopf)

Love Like That: Stories by Emma Duffy-Comparone (Henry Holt & Company)

Eat the Mouth That Feeds You by Carribean Fragoza (City Lights Books)

What Isn’t Remembered: Stories by Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry (University of Nebraska Press)

Mad Prairie: Stories and a Novella by Kate McIntyre (University of Georgia Press)

Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz (Grove Press)

The Rock Eaters: Stories by Brenda Peynado (Penguin Books)

Objects of Desire: Stories by Clare Sestanovich (Knopf)

Give My Love to the Savages: Stories Chris Stuck (Amistad Press)

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

This award is given to “a debut novel of exceptional literary merit by an American author.”

Judges for this award are Zeyn Joukhadar, Téa Obreht, and Daniel Torday.

Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi (The Overlook Press)

Swimming Back to Trout River: A Novel by Linda Rui Feng (Simon & Schuster)

Dear Miss Metropolitan: A Novel by Carolyn Ferrell (Henry Holt & Company)

The Recent East: A Novel by Thomas Grattan (MCD)

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois: A Novel by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers (Harper)

Future Feeling: A Novel by Joss Lake (Soft Skull Press)

Bed Stuy: A Love Story by Jerry McGill (Little A)

Detransition, Baby: A Novel by Torrey Peters (One World)

The Five Wounds: A Novel by Kirstin Valdez Quade (W.W. Norton & Company)

Nightbitch: A Novel by Rachel Yoder (Doubleday)


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

Judges for this award are Jason DeParle, Hua Hsu, and Marilynne Robinson.

A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib (Random House)

Homo Irrealis: Essays by André Aciman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Black Paper: Writing in a Dark Time by Teju Cole (University of Chicago Press)

Cranial Fracking by Ian Frazier (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Endings & Beginnings: Family Essays by DeWitt Henry (MadHat Press)

Nine Nasty Words: English in the Gutter: Then, Now, and Forever by John McWhorter (Avery)

These Precious Days: Essays by Ann Patchett (Harper)

Graceland, at Last: Notes on Hope and Heartache from the American South by Margaret Renkl (Milkweed Editions)

Languages of Truth by Salman Rushdie, (Random House)

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life by George Saunders (Random House)


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

Judges for this award are Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, Lia Purpura, and Safiya Sinclair.

Pilgrim Bell: Poems by Kaveh Akbar (Graywolf Press)

The Wild Fox of Yemen: Poems by Threa Almontaser (Graywolf Press)

Yellow Rain: Poems by Mai Der Vang (Graywolf Press)

Reparations Now! by Ashley M. Jones (Hub City Press)

Sho by Douglas Kearney (Wave Books)

Cutlish by Rajiv Mohabir (Four Way Books)

Heard-Hoard by Atsuro Riley (University of Chicago Press)

frank: sonnets by Diane Seuss (Graywolf Press)

Mutiny by Phillip B. Williams (Penguin Books)

How to Not Be Afraid of Everything by Jane Wong (Alice James Books)

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

This award is given to “a book-length translation of poetry from any language into English.”

Judges for this award are Caro Carter, Michael Favala Goldman, and Parisa Saranj.

Exhausted on the Cross by Najwan Darwish (New York Review Books)
Translated from the Arabic by Kareem James Abu-Zeid

Edinburgh Notebook by Valerie Mejer Caso (Action Books)
Translated from the Spanish by Michelle Gil-Montero

Everything I Don’t Know by Jerzy Ficowski (World Poetry Books)
Translated from the Polish by Jennifer Grotz and Piotr Sommer

Words as Grain by Duo Duo (Yale University Press)
Translated from the Chinese by Lucas Klein

The Voices & Other Poems by 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 by Ursula Andkjær Olsen (Action Books)
Translated from the Danish by Katrine Øgaard Jensen

Ova Completa by Susana Thénon (Ugly Duckling Presse)
Translated from Spanish by Rebekah Smith

Catcalling by Lee Soho (Open Letter Books)
Translated from Korean by Soje

Damascus, Atlantis by Marie Silkeberg (Terra Nova Press)
Translated from the Swedish by Kelsi Vanada

PEN Translation Prize ($3,000)

This award is given to “a book-length translation of prose from any language into English.”

Judges for this award are Almiro Andrade, Mayada Ibrahim, Barbara Ofosu-Somuah, and Sharon E. Rhodes.

The Divorce by César Aira (New Directions)
Translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews

FEM by Magda Cârneci (Deep Vellum)
Translated from the Romanian by Sean Cotter

The Touch System by Alejandra Costamagna (Transit Books)
Translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman

I’m in Seattle, Where Are You?: A Memoir by Mortada Gzar (Amazon Crossing)
Translated from the Arabic by William Hutchins

New Year by Juli Zeh (World Editions)
Translated from the German by Alta L. Price

Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine by Klara Hveberg (HarperVia)
Translated from the Norwegian by Allison McCullough

Migratory Birds by Mariana Oliver (Transit Books)
Translated from the Spanish by Julia Sanches

Faraway by Lo Yi-Chin (Columbia University Press)
Translated from the Chinese by Jeremy Tiang

The Last One: A Novel by Fatima Daas (Other Press)
Translated from the French by Lara Vergnaud

Kaya Days: A Novel by Carl de Souza (Two Line Press)
Translated from the French by Jeffrey Zuckerman


This award is given to “a work that exemplifies literary excellence on the subject of the physical or biological sciences and communicates complex scientific concepts to a lay audience.”

Judges for this award are Jonathan Safran Foer, Michele Harper, and Lauren Redniss.

The Memory Thief: And the Secrets Behind What We Remember by Lauren Aguirre (Pegasus Books)

This Is the Voice by John Colapinto (Simon & Schuster)

Holding Back the River: The Struggle Against Nature on America’s Waterways by Tyler J. Kelley (Avid Reader Press)

Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth by Avi Loeb (Mariner Books)

The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (Bold Type Books)

Fox & I: An Uncommon Friendship by Catherine Raven (Spiegel & Grau)

Second Nature: Scenes from a World Remade by 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 by Shanna H. Swan (Scribner)

Believers: Making a Life at the End of the World by Lisa Wells (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Life’s Edge: The Search for What It Means to Be Alive by Carl Zimmer (Dutton Books)


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

Judges for this award are Luke Dittrich, Paul Golob, and Imani Perry.

The Invention of Miracles: Language, Power, and Alexander Graham Bell’s Quest to End Deafness by Katie Booth (Simon & Schuster)

Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II by Daniel James Brown (Viking)

King of the Blues: The Rise and Reign of B.B King by 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 by Rebecca Donner (Little Brown and Company)

Albert and the Whale: Albrecht Dürer and How Art Imagines Our World  by Phillip Hoare (Pegasus Books)

The Gambler Wife: A True Story of Love, Risk, and the Woman Who Saved Dostoyevsky by Andrew D. Kaufman (Riverhead Books)

Two-Way Mirror: The Life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning by Fiona Sampson (W.W Norton and Company)

Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit (Viking)

Lady Bird Johnson: Hiding in Plain Sight by Julia Sweig (Random House)

The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock: An Anatomy of the Master of Suspense by Edward White (W.W Norton and Company)


This award is given to “a distinguished book of general nonfiction possessing notable literary merit and critical perspective that illuminates important contemporary issues.”

Judges for this award are Emma Copley Eisenberg, Dr. K. Tsianina Lomawaima, Chanel Miller, and Dagmawi Woubshet.

Pure America: Eugenics and the Making of Modern Virginia by Elizabeth Catte (Belt Publishing)

Children Under Fire: An American Crisis by John Woodrow Cox (Ecco Press)

Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City by Andrea Elliot (Random House)

The Ravine: A Family, a Photograph, a Holocaust Massacre Revealed by Wendy Lower (Mariner Books)

All that She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family’s Keepsake by Tiya Miles (Random House)

Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration by Reuben Jonathan Miller (Little Brown and Company)

Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America’s Cheap Goods by Amelia Pang (Algonquin Books)

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe (Doubleday)

Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993 by Sarah Schulman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith (Little Brown and Company)