Claire Jiménez’s What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez (Grand Central) has been selected as the winner of the 2024 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

“Our judges have accomplished the seemingly impossible task of finding a ‘first among equals’ among five diverse and powerfully impressive titles,” said Louis Bayard, PEN/Faulkner Awards Committee Chair. “We look forward to celebrating Jiménez’s extraordinary novel at our awards ceremony in May alongside the accomplished work of her fellow finalists.”

This year’s judges—Xochitl Gonzalez, Alan Michael Parker, and Lynn Steger Strong—considered 445 eligible novels and short story collections by American authors published in the US during the 2023 calendar year. Submissions came from 183 publishing houses, including independent and academic presses.

“Claire Jiménez has crafted a visceral work of art full of nuance, humor, and humanity, through incisive and loving character work, the finely calibrated unspooling of narrative, and the exquisite deployment of language, ranging from poetic prose to Spanglish to the sociolect of working-class Staten Island,” said this year’s judges. “A marvelously rendered novel about women, dangers to women, and our strength, What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez is a complex portrait of resilience, full of life: anger, laughter, sorrow, and love.”

PFA 2023 Winner

Claire Jiménez is a Puerto Rican writer who grew up in Brooklyn and Staten Island, New York. She is the author of the short story collection Staten Island Stories (Johns Hopkins Press, 2019) and What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez (Grand Central, 2023). She received her MFA from Vanderbilt University and her PhD in English with specializations in Ethnic Studies and Digital Humanities from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. In 2019, she co-founded the Puerto Rican Literature Project, a digital archive documenting the lives and work of hundreds of Puerto Rican writers from over the last century. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of South Carolina.

“I began writing this story a decade ago, a strange tale about the disappearance of a Puerto Rican girl from Staten Island and the women in her family who cannot stop looking for her,” said Jiménez. “This novel is not only about a missing girl but also missing stories. I am so grateful to the PEN/Faulkner Foundation and the judges for honoring the voices of the Ramirez women, and I cannot wait to celebrate the extraordinary books of my fellow finalists at the award ceremony in May.”

The PEN/Faulkner Award is America’s most prestigious peer-juried literary prize. As the author of the winning book, Jiménez will receive $15,000. The authors of each of the other finalists— Jamel Brinkley, for Witness; Henry Hoke, for Open Throat; Alice McDermott, for Absolution; and Colin Winnette, for Users—will receive $5,000. Recent winners include The Book of Goose by Yiyun Li, The Wrong End of the Telescope by Rabih Alameddine; The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw; Sea Monsters by Chloe Aridjis; Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi; Improvement by Joan Silber; and Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue.

2023 PEN/Faulkner Award Celebration Graphic

All five books and their authors will be honored at the annual PEN/Faulkner Award Celebration on Thursday, May 2, at 7 pm ET at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in DC. This in-person event will feature presentations by our judges; original readings by our five finalists; and an appearance by our 2024 PEN/Faulkner Literary Champion, David Baldacci, along with other special guests, including journalist Ron Charles and author Sarah Pekkanen