2021 Judges

The PEN/Faulkner Foundation is honored to have the services of the following 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award judges:

Charles Finch is the author of several nationally bestselling novels, among them The Inheritance (Minotaur, 2016) and The Last Enchantments (St. Martin’s, 2014). His criticism regularly appears in The New York Times, Washington Post, Slate, New York, The Guardian, and other publications, and he received the 2018 Nona Balakian Citation from the National Book Critics Circle for excellence in reviewing. He has subsequently served on the board of the NBCC, for which he has served as fiction chair, and is a member of the curatorial board of the arts colony Ragdale. He was a fellow at Yaddo in the fall of 2019, and is currently at work on a non-fiction book about the events of 2020, to be published by Knopf. A native of New York, Finch lives in Los Angeles.


Bernice L. McFadden is the author of The Book of Harlan (winner of the 2017 American Book Award and the 2017 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work.) This in addition to eight other critically acclaimed novels including Sugar, Loving Donovan, Gathering of Waters (a New York Times Editors’ Choice and one of the 100 Notable Books of 2012), Glorious, which was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award. She is a four-time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist, as well as the recipient of four awards from the BCALA. Her latest novel, Praise Song for the Butterflies was longlisted for the 2018 Women’s Prize.


Alexi Zentner is the author of seven novels: Copperhead, The Lobster Kings, and Touch, and under the pseudonym Ezekiel Boone, he is the author of the internationally bestselling The Hatching trilogy, which includes the books The Hatching, Skitter, and Zero Day, as well as The Mansion. His work has been published or is forthcoming in more than sixteen countries and a dozen languages and is under development for the screen. He is an Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at Binghamton University.

Our previous judges have included Porochista Khakpour, Patricia Engel, Ru Freeman, Percival Everett, Ernesto Quiñonez, and Joy Williams.