2023 PEN/Faulkner Finalists

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The 2023 PEN/Faulkner finalists were announced Tuesday. The award has been granted for over 40 years to American authors, and is judged by writers who see a peer’s work as being the “first among equals.” The author who wins first place will win $15,000, and each finalist $5,000.

This year’s judges were R.O. Kwon, Tiphanie Yanique, and Christopher Bollen, who narrowed down a selection of 512 novels and short story collections to 10, and finally the current five.

The three authors had this to say about their selections: “Monstrosity, resilience, terror, pleasure, joy, peace, and wisdom. These aspects of human experience come alive in the novels and short-story collections on our shortlist. They are written with incredible emotional complexity and pressing historical urgency, and each offers a path forward for fiction in this country and beyond. Our selections display brilliant technical skill in charting the complexities of mind, body and society. And they deftly bring to life their characters’ beating hearts. The books are primers on how good writing is made.”

Below are the five finalists:

If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery (MCD)

Fruiting Bodies by Kathryn Harlan (Norton)

The Islands by Dionne Irving (Catapult)

The Book of Goose by Yiyun Li (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)

Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm by Laura Warrell (Pantheon)

The winner will be announced during the 43rd annual PEN/Faulkner Award celebration on May 11, 2023.

To read more about the finalists and the award, make sure to head over to PEN/Faulkner’s announcement page.

Find more news and stories of interest from the book world in Breaking in Books.