PEN/Faulkner Foundation announces finalists for 2021 Fiction award

The PEN/Faulkner Foundation has announced the longlist of books for the 2021 Award for Fiction, America’s largest peer-juried literary prize. Seven of the 10 finalists are by women.

  • Bestiary by K-Ming Chang (One World)
  • Dear Ann by Bobbie Ann Mason (HarperCollins)
  • Disappear Doppelgänger Disappear by Matthew Salesses (Little A)
  • The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe (Alfred A. Knopf)
  • Mother Daughter Widow Wife by Robin Wasserman (Scribner)
  • Nine Shiny Objects by Brian Castleberry (Custom House)
  • The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans (Riverhead)
  • Scattered Lights by Steve Wiegenstein (Cornerpost)
  • The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw (West Virginia University Press)
  • Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (Alfred A. Knopf)

“These extraordinary times have called forth extraordinary art,” said PEN/Faulkner’s Awards Committee Chair, Louis Bayard, “and the ten titles chosen for our longlist are a powerful reminder that fiction is as essential as ever.”

In selecting the longlist, this year’s judges–Charles Finch, Bernice L. McFadden, and Alexi Zentner–considered 419 eligible novels and short story collections by American authors published in the US during the 2020 calendar year. Submissions came from 170 publishing houses, including small and academic presses. From this longlist, the judges will select five distinguished finalists for the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Those finalists will be announced in early March. The winning book–the “first among equals,” selected from among the five finalists–will be announced in April. And the awards ceremony-which will also honor the Foundation’s 40th anniversary-will take place on May 10.

For those unfamiliar with PEN/Faulkner, the Foundation celebrates literature and fosters connections between readers and writers to enrich and inspire both individuals and communities.

For more info, visit

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