Make Words Matter! Support PEN/Faulkner this #GivingTuesday

Today PEN/Faulkner is participating in Giving Tuesday, a national day of generosity when communities come together to support the causes they believe in. Help us do even more this coming year to bring books to life and make literature accessible to everyone.

Here’s an idea of what your donation can make happen:

  • $25: Help a DC public school student attend a public literary event
  • $50: Buy materials for the 2018 DC Essay Writing Contest workshop
  • $100: Provide lunch for 3 Teen Parent Book Club sessions
  • $500: Donate books to 25 Writers in Schools students
  • $1000: Fund an entire Writers in Schools visit, including author travel and honorarium
  • $5000: Cover the venue cost for a public Literary Conversations reading series event in 2018

Donate to PEN/Faulkner

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at Cardozo Education Campus

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at Cardozo Education Campus

PEN/Faulkner 2017-2018 Season

We are pleased to share with you our exciting lineup of events for the 2017-2018 season. After thirty extraordinary years with the Folger Shakespeare Library, we are excited to expand our reading series to new locations in the city. Come join our Literary Conversations to hear today’s writers read their work and engage in discourse on today’s issues, with each event individually ticketed (or free to attend) and held at a different venue. We look forward to seeing you! Click here for more information on all events.


Now Accepting Submissions for the 2018 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

The PEN/Faulkner Foundation is now accepting submissions for the 2018 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction!

This year’s judges, Alex Espinoza, Stacey D’Erasmo, and Andrea Barrett, are poised to read the novels, novellas, and collections of short stories and to choose next year’s winner and finalists.

Submission Guidelines:

  • Books must be published in 2017.
  • Authors must be living American citizens.
  • Books must be published on an American commercial, academic, or small press. No self-published books are accepted.
  • There are no submission fees or application forms.
  • Bound proofs are eligible for submission for books which will be published in November or December of 2017.
  • All submissions must be post-marked October 31, 2017.

Please send FOUR copies of each book to the following address for forwarding to the judges. You are invited to send as many shipments as you like, and are encouraged to send available books as soon as possible.

PEN/Faulkner Award Submissions
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003

The award was founded by members of the international writers’ organization PEN and is now governed by an independent foundation board. The budget for the award and its administration is funded by gifts and grants. We are always grateful for support of the award and of other PEN/Faulkner programs.

The winning writer and four finalists are honored at a ceremony held in Washington at the Folger Shakespeare Library in May, 2018. To browse a list of past winners and finalists, click here.

If you have any questions regarding the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, please send them to

The 37th Annual PEN/Faulkner Award Ceremony

The 37th Annual PEN/Faulkner Award Ceremony & Dinner

Saturday, May 6th, 2017 at 7:00 PM

Folger Shakespeare Library


Celebrating the winner as “first among equals,” the 37th Annual PEN/Faulkner Award Ceremony & Dinner will take place at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, May 6, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $100.

The event will feature the judges’ citations for each finalist’s book, the conferral of the PEN/Faulkner Award on Imbolo Mbue, and a reading by each author. Ron Charles, Editor of Book World for the Washington Post, will serve as our Master of Ceremonies for the evening.

After the readings, we’ll adjourn to the Old Reading Room of the Folger Shakespeare Library for a buffet dinner with the judges, finalists, and winner. By purchasing a table for 10, you guarantee seats with your friends, an exclusive chance to pre-select your spot in the Reading Room, and the opportunity to sit with a local author.

To purchase tickets, click here or call the Folger Box Office at 202-544-7077; to purchase a table, call the Box Office. We can’t wait to see you there!

“The most incredible part of this incredible, wonderful award are the people who are on this stage with me.” – Karen Joy Fowler, 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award Winner  

Announcing the 2017 PEN/Faulkner Award Winner


Congratulations to Imbolo Mbue, winner of the 2017 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for her novel Behold the Dreamers (Penguin Random House), and congratulations again to our four finalists:

Viet Dinh for After Disasters (Little A, Seattle)

Louise Erdrich for LaRose (HarperCollins)

Garth Greenwell for What Belongs to You (Farrar, Straus, Giroux)

Sunil Yapa for Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist (Little, Brown)

About the 2017 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Winner and Finalists:


Behold the Dreamers
(Penguin Random House)

Imbolo Mbue’s debut novel, Behold the Dreamers, covers the struggle of immigrants longing to become American citizens, the stark divide between rich and poor, and the global financial crisis following the collapse of Lehman Brothers. At the center of the novel is Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant who takes a job as a personal chauffeur for Clark Edwards, an executive at Lehman Brothers. It opens a window into a world of astounding privilege. Even as he works his way through immigration court, Jende remains aggressively optimistic about the promise of America, and soon his wife too begins working for the Edwards family. But in the days before the historic 2008 election, as Lehman Brothers declares bankruptcy, the cracks in the Edwards family begin to show — as do the things that make this country both blessed and doomed.  Michael Schaub, in his review on NPR, writes that Behold the Dreamers is a story with “no false notes, no narrative shortcuts, and certainly no manufactured happy endings.”

A native of Cameroon, Mbue currently lives in New York City.


Image result for viet dinh author

After Disasters
(Little A, Seattle)

Viet Dinh’s After Disasters is the ambitious debut novel chronicling trauma in many forms, from ecological, to psychological, to colonial. Based loosely on the major earthquake that struck the Gujarat province in India in 2001, the novel stitches together the lives of four men who arrive to join in relief efforts. Ted is a pharmaceutical salesmen turned U.S. aid-worker; Piotr is a haunted, Bosnian War Veteran; Andy is a young British firefighter eager for action; and Dev is an Indian AIDS doctor given the impossible task of tending to quake victims without the resources or time. In their attempt to redirect the forces of death and chaos, the disaster leads all four men to confront the fault lines of desire, love, and duty, in their own lives and the lives of strangers. Heidi Hong for the Los Angeles Times Book Review writes, “Dinh’s storytelling is attuned to paradox and interconnectedness, showing us that catastrophic events can change lives irrevocably while being only one of many ongoing tragedies in a short life.”

Dinh was born in Vietnam and grew up in Colorado. He currently lives in Wilmington, Delaware and teaches in the English Department at the University of Delaware.


Image result for louise erdrichLOUISE ERDRICH


Louise Erdrich’s La Rose unfolds from a single, tragic shot. While hunting near his home on a North Dakota Ojibwe reservation one afternoon, Landreaux Iron accidently shoots his best friend’s son, Dusty. The two families, the Irons and the Ravichs, are plunged into blinding grief. But, Landreaux and his wife Emmaline arrive at an act of atonement: “Our son will be your son now,” they tell Peter Ravich, handing over a suitcase, “It’s the old way.” And so they leave their son, LaRose, to be raised in place of another boy. The story that follows traces the contours of grief—and both the possibilities and limitations of forgiveness. In his review of LaRose in The Washington Post, Ron Charles writes, “[Erdrich] gently insists that there are abiding spirits in this land and alternative ways of living and forgiving that have somehow survived the West’s best efforts to snuff them out.”

Louise Erdrich is the author of fifteen novels, including The Round House, which won the National Book Award for Fiction, Love Medicine, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and The Plague of Doves, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. An enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians,  Erdrich lives in Minnesota where she is the owner of Birchbark Books.


What Belongs to You
(Farrar, Straus, Giroux)

Garth Greenwell’s debut novel What Belongs to You begins on a downward arc. The narrator, a young American teacher living in Bulgaria, searches for anonymous sex in public bathrooms under the National Palace of Culture. There he meets a rough, captivating man named Mitko who quickly takes the narrator up on his offer. What follows is the development of a relationship so tangled that it threatens to cast the narrator’s neatly measured life into disarray. Greenwell transforms introspective material into a thrilling narrative the plumbs the depths of what it means to love, what it means to lust, and what we are and are not able to confess.  Aaron Hamburger writes in The New York Times, “‘What Belongs to You’ is a rich, important debut, an instant classic to be savored by all lovers of serious fiction because of, not despite, its subject: a gay man’s endeavor to fathom his own heart.”

Along with What Belongs to You, Greenwell is the author of the novella, Mitko, which won the 2010 Miami University Press Novella Prize and was a finalist for the Edmund White Debut Fiction Prize and a Lambda Award. He lives in Iowa City, where he holds the Richard E. Guthrie Memorial Fellowship at the University of Iowa.


Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist
(Little, Brown)

In Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, Sunil Yapa tells the story of the Seattle World Trade Organization Protests of 1999 through a cast of rotating characters, evoking the human elements of a mass protest. Victor is the central character among these. A young black runaway and the estranged stepson of the white police chief presiding over the protest, Victor is hoping that the crowds gathered outside the WTO conference center will make for a pot-selling business opportunity. Other chapters are told from the perspectives of two street medics, a Sri Lankan delegate attempting to attend the conference so his country can gain admittance to the WTO, and Victor’s own estranged stepfather, Police Chief Bishop. The book displays the competing individual desires of a protest: activists who what justice, delegates who strive for economic growth, and cops who are trying to maintain order amidst perceived chaos. In The New York Times, Jenny Hendrix writes, “At the center of the novel is the same question posed by the protests themselves: What kind of world do we want, and what must we do to get it?”

Yapa is a Sri Lankan-American and lives in upstate New York

About the 2017 Judges:

Chris HeadshotChris Abani is a novelist, poet, essayist, screenwriter, and playwright.  Born in Nigeria to an Igbo father and English mother, he grew up in Afikpo, Nigeria and received a BA in English from Imo State University in Nigeria, a BA in English, Gender and Culture from Birbeck College, University of London and a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California.  He is the recipient of the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the Prince Claus Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a California Book Award, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a PEN Beyond the Margins Award, the PEN Hemmingway Book Prize and Guggenheim Award.  His fiction includes The Secret History of Las VegasSong for NightThe Virgin of FlamesBecoming AbigailGraceLand, and Masters of the Board.  He has lived in the United States since 2001.

Chantel Acevedo‘s novels include Love and Ghost Letters, which won the Latino International Book Award and was a finalist for the Connecticut Book of the Year, Song of the Red Cloak, a historical novel for young adults, A Falling Star, winner of the Doris Bakwin Award and a National Bronze Medal IPPY Award, and The Distant Marvels, one of the Booklist’s Top Ten Historical Novels of 2015. THE MILK BROTHER, a novel about the Infanta Eulalia, is forthcoming in 2017.  Her fiction and poetry have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and have appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Poetry Review, North American Review, and Chattahoochee Review.  Acevedo is currently an Associate Professor of English in the MFA Program of the University of Miami.

Related imageSigrid Nunez
 is the author of the novels, A Feather on the Breath of God, a finalist for both the PEN/Hemingway Award for First Fiction and the Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers Award and received the Association for Asian American Studies Award for best novel of the year, Naked Sleeper, Mitz: The Marmoset of Bloomsbury, winner of the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award, For Rouenna, The Last of Her Kind, and Salvation City.  Nunez is also the author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag.  Her new novel, The Friend, will be published by Riverhead in 2018.  Nunez has taught at Princeton, Amherst, Smith, Columbia, the New School, Boston University, and Brooklyn College, and has been a visiting writer, or a writer in residence at Washington University, Baruch, Vassar, and the University of California at Irvine, among others.  Sigrid Nunez lives in New York City.

Buy Copies of the Books from Politics & Prose:

Politics and Prose logoOur longtime friends and partners at Politics & Prose will be on hand to sell copies of books by this year’s finalists and winner, and we encourage you to check out the store’s huge selections of books and amazing lineup of live events by visiting them online here:


Listen to the Podcast:

PEN/Faulkner Podcast LogoThe 2017 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Ceremony & Reading will recorded and produced as an episode of the PEN/Faulkner Podcast. You can listen to past awards and other events on the Podcast Page.

You can also subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

About the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

The PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction is a national prize which honors the best published works of fiction by American citizens in a calendar year. Three writers are chosen annually by the directors of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation to serve as judges for the prize, and these judges are asked to select five books as finalists for the award, making this the largest peer-juried award in the country. Both the eventual winner of the award and all finalists are invited to Washington, D.C. for the PEN/Faulkner Award Ceremony and Dinner.

Celebrating the winner as “first among equals,” the 37th Annual PEN/Faulkner Award Ceremony will take place at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, May 6, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. The event will feature the judges’ citations for each finalist’s book, the conferral of the PEN/Faulkner Award, and a reading by each author.

Each year, the PEN/Faulkner Award Ceremony & Dinner is open to the public. Tickets are available for purchase through the Box Office of the Folger Shakespeare Library. Call the Folger Box Office at (202) 544-7077 for more information.

A list of past winners and finalists of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction can be found here.

April 7: The Displaced: An Evening with Laila Lalami, Shobha Rao and Luis Urrea

The Displaced

The Displaced: An Evening with Laila Lalami, Shobha Rao, and Luis Urrea
Moderator: Sarah Stillman

Friday, April 7th, 2017  |  7:30 PM
Purchase a single ticket for $15

Folger Shakespeare Library
201 East Capitol St., SE
Washington, DC 20003 

Four Moroccans cross the Strait of Gibraltar in an inflatable boat bound for Spain. A Mexican village is left empty of men who have fled to the United States in search of economic opportunity. A new mother is trapped on the wrong side of the India-Pakistan border. Laila Lalami in Hope and Other Dangerous PursuitsShobha Rao in An Unrestored Woman, and Luis Urrea in Into the Beautiful North speak to lives that are never stationary and to communities that have been uprooted. They’ll come together on-stage to read from their work, and discuss what it means to be a citizen in our volatile world.

Join us on at the Folger Shakespeare Library on Friday, April 7th, for this complex and necessary discussion.

Image result for laila lalami hope and other dangerous pursuitsLaila Lalami was born in Rabat and educated in Morocco, Great Britain, and the United States.  She the the author of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award; Secret Son, which appeared on the Orange Prize longlist; and The Moor’s Account, which won the American Book Award, the Arab American Book Award, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.  Her essays and opinion pieces have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, The Nation, the Guardian, the New York Times, and in many anthologies.  In 2016, she was named a columnist for The Nation magazine and a critic-at-large for the Los Angeles Times. She is the recipient of a British Council Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship and is currently a professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside.

“The Moor’s Account is more than a good story, it’s a great one: rich, vivid and gripping; a thoughtful investigation into how we frame the narratives of our own lives. “
– Sarah Crown, The Guardian

Image result for an unrestored womanShobha Rao moved to the US from India at the age of seven.  She is the winner of the 2014 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction, awarded by Nimrod International Journal. She has been a resident at Hedgebrook and is the recipient of the Elizabeth George Foundation fellowship. Her story “Kavitha and Mustafa” was chosen by TC Boyle for inclusion in the Best American Short Stories 2015.  An Unrestored Woman is her debut.

“Rao demonstrates her enormous power, summing up the complexities of an entire life in diamond-cut sharp scenes and dialogue.”
– Siobhan Fallon, New York Journal of Books

Image result for into the beautiful northLuis Urrea, Tijuana-born, is a prolific writer who uses his dual-culture life experiences to explore greater themes of love, loss and triumph. Urrea is the critically acclaimed and best-selling author of 16 books, winning numerous awards for his poetry, fiction and essays. Into the Beautiful North has been selected by more than 30 different cities and colleges as a community read.  A Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2005 (nonfiction), he’s won the Kiriyama Prize (2006), the Lannan Award (2002), an American Book Award (1999) and was named to the Latino Literary Hall of Fame.  He is a creative writing professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago

“Reading The Water Museum is like listening to a great album on a long drive through what the band Modest Mouse called “the lonesome crowded west.”
–Michael Schaud, NPR


March 13th: We Wear the Masks: Manuel Gonzales, Yona Harvey, and Gary Jackson

We Wear the Masks

We Wear the Masks: Poetry and Fiction Inspired by Comic Books with Manuel Gonzales, Yona Harvey, and Gary Jackson
Co-sponsored by the O.B. Harrison Poetry Series

Monday, March 13th, 2017  |  7:30 PM
Purchase a single ticket for $15

Folger Shakespeare Library
201 East Capitol St., SE
Washington, DC 20003 

The PEN/Faulkner Foundation and the O.B. Hardison Poetry Series come together to explore the evolving influence that comic books have on writers. The writers will read from their work and participate in a post-reading conversation moderated by Dr. Tara Betts, Visiting Lecturer at University of Illinois-Chicago. Using handwritten poems and passages, the artists of Ink Brick, a micro-press for comic book poetry, will create one-of-a-kind comic book broadsides for this event.

Join us on at the Folger Theatre on Monday, March 13th, for this exciting and wide-ranging conversation.


Manual Gonzales is the author of The Miniature Wife and Other Stories (Riverhead) and the forthcoming novel, The Regional Office is Under Attack! (Riverhead). His fiction and nonfiction have been published in McSweeney’sFence, Tin HouseOpen CityOne StoryThe, and various other publications. He is the recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Sue Kaufman Prize for Fiction and the John Gardner Fiction Book Award. He teaches writing at the University of Kentucky and the Institute of American Indian Arts.

“Gonzales writers with an abundance of imagination, riffing on comic book and pop culture plot lines and characters while adding his own unique perspective.”
-Publishers Weekly


Yona Harvey is the author of the poetry collection Hemming the Water, winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award from Claremont Graduate University and finalist for the Hurston-Wright Award. Her work has been anthologized in many publications including A Poet’s Craft: A Comprehensive guide to Making and Sharing Your Poetry and The Force of What’s Possible: Accessibility and the Avant-Garde. She has received an Individual Artist grant in nonfiction from The Pittsburgh Foundation and participated in workshops and residencies at the inaugural Cave Canem retreat and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. She is an assistant professor in the Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh.

“An extraordinary debut book in which the devastations is very much alive.”
–Toi Derricotte, Poet and Cofounder of Cave Canem


Gary Jackson is the author of Missing You, Metropolis (Graywolf Press, 2010), which was selected by Yusef Komunyakaa as winner of the 2009 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. He was born and raised in Topeka, Kansas, and received his MFA degree in poetry from the University of New Mexico in 2008. His poems have appeared in The Laurel Review, Blue Mesa Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Literary Bohemian, Inscape, and Magma, and he was nominated for a 2010 Pushcart Prize. He has been a fierce lover of comics for nearly twenty years.

“A heartbreaking debut that leads not to nowhere but to the knowledge that how we embrace our childhood wonder determines how we arrive at adulthood.
–Jennifer Chang,  Poetry Society of America

Episode 53 – Louise Erdrich

The PEN/Faulkner Podcast is back!

Louise Erdrich Credit Paul Emmel

Louise Erdrich is the author of fourteen novels, a volume of short stories, several books of poetry, and a series of children’s books. Her novel The Round House won the 2012 National Book Award; she is a former Guggenheim Fellow and has received the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction. 

In 2015, Erdrich received the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, a lifetime achievement award, presented at the National Book Festival. On May 10th, 2016, Erdrich joined PEN/Faulkner at an event co-hosted by the Library of Congress to read from her novel, LaRose.

“Book by book, over the past three decades, Louise Erdrich has built one of the most moving and engrossing collections of novels in American literature.”
– Ron Charles, Washington Post Book World

Thank you to Benedict Kupstas and Field Guides for donating the music used in this episode. Listen here to Field Guides’ album Boo, Forever.

December 2: The PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story: Joy Williams















The PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story: Joy Williams

Friday, December 2nd, 2016  |  7:30 PM
Purchase a single ticket for $25.

Folger Reading Room – Old Reading Room
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003 (map)


Given since 1988 in Honor of the late Bernard Malamud, this award recognizes a body of work demonstrating excellence in the art of short fiction. This year we will honor Joy Williams, a writer known for her crisp prose, grim wit, and unsparing explorations of the dark side of hope.

Joy Williams is the author of four novels, two collections of nonfiction, and five short story collections including The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories (2015), and 99 Stories of God (2016).

Her first novel, State of Grace (1973), was a finalist for the National Book Award and her most recent novel The Quick and the Dead was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her collection of nonfiction Ill Nature was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and she was the 1999 recipient of the Rea Award for the Short Story.

“In Williams’s world, we are all wandering interlopers— adrift, trapped, groundless—looking for visitors’ privileges.” – James Wood, The New Yorker

About the Award

Malamud - small with both armsThe PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story was established by Bernard Malamud’s family to honor excellence in the art of short fiction. The basis of the award fund was a gift from the Malamud family. The fund continues to grow through the generosity of friends, supporters, and Reading Series subscribers. The readings and the fund are administered by the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. A panel of PEN/Faulkner directors forms the selection committee for the awards.