NBCC and PEN America announce 2018 literary awards finalists

Two esteemed literary organizations have announced the finalists for their 2018 awards.

The National Book Critics Circle Awards will be presented on March 14, 2019 at the New School in New York City. A reading by the finalists will take place the evening before the awards, also at the New School. 



Anna Burns, Milkman (Graywolf Press) – winner of the 2018 Booker Prize

Patrick Chamoiseau, Slave Old Man. Translated by Linda Coverdale (The New Press)

Denis Johnson, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden (Random House)

Rachel Kushner, The Mars Room (Scribner)

Luis Alberto Urrea, The House of Broken Angels (Little, Brown)



Terrance Hayes, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (Penguin Books)

Ada Limón, The Carrying (Milkweed)

Erika Meitner, Holy Moly Carry Me (Boa)

Diane Seuss, Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl (Graywolf Press)

Adam Zagajewski, Asymmetry. Translated by Clare Cavanagh (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)


John Leonard Prize for First Book in Any Genre

Winner: Tommy Orange, There There (Knopf)


Nana Kwami Adjei-Brenyah, Friday Black (Mariner)

Jamel Brinkley, A Lucky Man (Graywolf Press)

Francisco Cantú, The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border (Riverhead)

Lisa Halliday, Asymmetry: A Novel (Simon and Schuster)

R.O. Kwon, The Incendiaries (Riverhead)

Tara Westover, Educated: A Memoir (Random House)


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. They champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Their mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

The winners will be celebrated at the 2019 PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony on February 26 at the NYU Skirball Center in NYC. 


PEN/Jean Stein Book Award

For a book-length work of any genre for its originality, merit, and impact.

Friday Black, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (Mariner Books)

The Carrying: Poems, Ada Limón (Milkweed Editions)

Citizen Illegal, José Olivarez (Haymarket Books)

The Overstory: A Novel, Richard Powers (W. W. Norton & Company)

Educated: A Memoir, Tara Westover (Random House)


PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection

To an author whose debut collection of short stories published in 2018 represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.

White Dancing Elephants, Chaya Bhuvaneswar (Dzanc Books)

A Lucky Man, Jamel Brinkley (Graywolf Press)

Some Trick, Helen DeWitt (New Directions)

Half Gods, Akil Kumarasamy (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Bring Out the Dog, Will Mackin (Random House)


PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel

For an exceptional debut novel published in 2018.

Freshwater, Akwaeke Emezi (Grove Press)

The Driest Season, Meghan Kenny (W. W. Norton & Company)

Severance, Ling Ma (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

There There, Tommy Orange (Alfred A. Knopf)

Cherry, Nico Walker (Alfred A. Knopf)


PEN/Open Book Award

To an exceptional book-length work of any genre by an author of color, published in the United States in 2018.

Cape Verdean Blues, Shauna Barbosa (University of Pittsburgh Press)

How to Sit: A Memoir in Stories and Essays, Tyrese Coleman (Mason Jar Press)

Teeth Never Sleep, Ángel García (University of Arkansas Press)

Heads of the Colored People, Nafissa Thompson-Spires (Atria)

Eye Level, Jenny Xie (Graywolf Press)


PEN Translation Prize

For a book-length translation of prose from any language into English published in 2018.

Nevada Days, Bernardo Atxaga (Graywolf Press)
Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa

Disoriental, Négar Djavadi (Europa Editions)
Translated from the French by Tina Kover

The Stone Building and Other Places, Aslı Erdoğan (City Lights)
Translated from the Turkish by Sevinç Türkkan

Love, Hanne Ørstavik (Archipelago Books)
Translated from the Norwegian by Martin Aitken

Trick, Domenico Starnone (Europa Editions)
Translated from the Italian by Jhumpa Lahiri


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