The PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

The most prestigious annual peer-juried literary prize in America

The PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction honors the best published works of fiction by American permanent residents in a calendar year. Three writers are chosen annually by the Board of Directors of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation to serve as judges, ensuring that our awards selection process is free of commercial influence. These judges select an initial longlist of ten books, followed by five finalists, and finally one winner as the “first among equals.” The Award is presented at an annual celebration of the year’s distinguished books and authors. This exquisite literary evening features introductions by the PEN/Faulkner Award judges, original presentations by the year’s PEN/Faulkner Award winner and four finalists, and a star-studded list of notable guests, including our PEN/Faulkner Literary Champion.

Book covers of "The Secret Lives of Church Ladies," "Disappear Doppelgänger Disappear," "The Knockout Queen," "Mother Daughter Widow Wife," and "Scattered Lights" above headshots of authors Deesha Philyaw, Matthew Salesses, Rufi Thorpe, Robin Wasserman, and Steve Wiegenstein

2021 PEN/FAULKNER AWARD CELEBRATION

An Event to Remember for Contemporary Fiction Lovers

Join us for the 41st Annual PEN/Faulkner Award Celebration on May 10, 2021 as we honor this year’s distinguished books and authors. This exquisite literary evening will feature presentations by our judges; original readings by our winner and four finalists; an appearance by our inaugural PEN/Faulkner Literary Champion, LeVar Burton; and appearances by special guests Stephen King, Angie Thomas, Luis Alberto Urrea, Francine Prose, and Jason Reynolds.

Our 2021 Judges

Charles Finch
Charles Finch
Bernice McFadden
Bernice L. McFadden
Alexi Zentner
Alexi Zentner

Our 2021 Winner & Finalists

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

WINNER OF the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for FictionThe Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores the raw and tender places where Black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good. The nine stories in this collection feature...

Scattered Lights

Scattered Lights

Finalist for the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for FictionThis collection of stories brings together a wide cast of characters, all connected to the Ozarks - natives and transplants, young and old, wicked and innocent, troubled and happy, God-haunted and just plain haunted....

Mother Daughter Widow Wife

Mother Daughter Widow Wife

Finalist for the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for FictionWendy Doe is the woman, found on a bus to Philadelphia, has no money, no ID, and no memory of who she is, where she was going, or what she might have done. She’s assigned a name and diagnosis by the state:...

The Knockout Queen

The Knockout Queen

Finalist for the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for FictionBunny Lampert is the princess of North Shore⁠—beautiful, tall, blond, with a rich real-estate-developer father. Michael⁠⁠—with a ponytail down his back and a septum piercing⁠—lives with his aunt in the cramped stucco...

Disappear Doppelgänger Disappear

Disappear Doppelgänger Disappear

Finalist for the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for FictionMatt Kim is pretty sure he’s disappearing. His girlfriend, Yumi, is less convinced. But then she runs into someone who looks exactly like her, and her doppelgänger turns out to have dated someone who looks exactly...

2019 Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

“Winning the PEN/Faulkner Award at such a delicate and trying juncture in our nation’s troubled history is an honor I am infinitely grateful to carry.
– Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, author of Call Me Zebra

2020 Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

“I feel deeply honored, grateful, and overwhelmed to receive this news.”

– Chloe Arijdis, author of Sea Monsters

Submission Guidelines

The PEN/Faulkner Foundation will be accepting submissions for the 2022 PEN/Faulkner Award between July 1 and October 31.

Eligibility

  • Books must be published in 2021.
    Authors must be living American permanent residents.
  • Books must be published by a juried commercial, academic, or small press.
  • No self-published books are accepted.
  • There are no submission fees or application forms.
  • Advanced reading copies or proofs are eligible for submission for books that will be published in November or December of 2021.
    All submissions must be received by October 31, 2021.

Submission Process

Please send an easy-to-read PDF of each book to awards@penfaulkner.org for forwarding to the judges.

You are invited to send as many books as you like, and you are encouraged to send available books as soon as possible. Submissions may be made by publishers, authors, and literary agents.

If you have any questions regarding the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, please send them to awards@penfaulkner.org.

Past Winners & Finalists

2020 Winner

2019 Winner

Call Me Zebra book Cover

2019 Finalists

Tomb of the Unknown Racist Book Cover
The Overstory by Richard Powers
Love War Stories by Ivelisse Rodriguez Book Cover
Don’t Skip Out on Me by Willy Vlautin Book Cover

2018

WINNER:
Joan Silber, Improvement

FINALISTS:
Hernán Diaz, In The Distance
Samantha Hunt, The Dark Dark
Achy Obejas, The Tower of the Antilles
Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing

2017

WINNER:
Imbolo Mbue, Behold the Dreamers

FINALISTS:
Viet Dinh, After Disasters
Louise Erdrich, LaRose
Garth Greenwell, What Belongs to You
Sunil Yapa, Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist

2016

WINNER:
James Hannaham, Delicious Foods

FINALISTS:
Julie Iromuanya, Mr. and Mrs. Doctor
Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer
Elizabeth Tallent, Mendocino Fire
Luis Alberto Urrea, The Water Museum

2015

WINNER:
Atticus Lish, Preparation for the Next Life

FINALISTS:
Jeffery Renard Allen, Song of the Shank
Jennifer Clement, Prayers for the Stolen
Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven
Jenny Offill, Dept. of Speculation

2014

WINNER:
Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

FINALISTS:
Daniel Alarcón, At Night We Walk in Circles
Percival Everett, Percival Everett by Virgil Russell
Joan Silber, Fools
Valerie Trueblood, Search Party: Stories of Rescue

2013

WINNER:
Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club

FINALISTS:
Amelia Gray, Threats
Laird Hunt, Kind One
T. Geronimo Johnson, Hold It ‘Til It Hurts
Thomas Mallon, Watergate

2012

WINNER:
Julie Otsuka, The Buddha in the Attic

FINALISTS:
Russell Banks, The Lost Memory of Skin
Don DeLillo, The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories
Anita Desai, The Artist of Disappearance
Steven Millhauser, We Others: New and Selected Stories

2011

WINNER:
Deborah Eisenberg, The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg

FINALISTS:
Jennifer Egan, A Visit From the Goon Squad
Jaimy Gordon, Lord of Misrule
Eric Puchner, Model Home
Brad Watson, Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives

2010

WINNER:
Sherman Alexie, War Dances

FINALISTS:
Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna
Lorraine López, Homicide Survivors Picnic
Lorrie Moore, A Gate at the Stairs
Colson Whitehead, Sag Harbor

2009

WINNER:
Joseph O’Neill, Netherland

FINALISTS:
Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Ms. Hempel Chronicles
Susan Choi, A Person of Interest
Richard Price, Lush Life
Ron Rash, Serena

2008

WINNER:
Kate Christensen, The Great Man

FINALISTS:
Annie Dillard, The Maytrees
David Leavitt, The Indian Clerk
T.M. McNally, The Gateway: Stories
Ron Rash, Chemistry and Other Stories

2007

WINNER:
Philip Roth, Everyman

FINALISTS:

Charles D’Ambrosio, The Dead Fish Museum
Deborah Eisenberg, Twilight of the Superheroes
Amy Hempel, The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel
Edward P. Jones, All Aunt Hagar’s Children

2006

WINNER:
E.L. Doctorow, The March

FINALISTS:
Karen Fisher, A Sudden Country
William Henry Lewis, I Got Somebody in Staunton
James Salter, Last Night
Bruce Wagner, The Chrysanthemum Place

2005

WINNER:
Ha Jin, War Trash

FINALISTS:
Jerome Charyn, The Green Lantern
Edwidge Danticat, The Dew Breaker
Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
Steve Yarbrough, Prisoners of War

2004

WINNER:
John Updike, The Early Stories 1953–1975

FINALISTS:
Frederick Barthelme, Elroy Nights
ZZ Packer, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
Caryl Phillips, A Distant Shore
Tobias Wolff, Old School

2003

WINNER:
Sabina Murray, The Caprices

FINALISTS:
Peter Cameron, The City of Your Final Destination
William Kennedy, Roscoe
Victor LaValle, The Ecstatic
Gilbert Sorrentino, Little Casino

2002

WINNER:
Ann Patchett, Bel Canto

FINALISTS:
Karen Joy Fowler, Sister Noon
Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections
Claire Messud, The Hunters
Manil Suri, The Death of Vishnu

2001

WINNER:
Philip Roth, The Human Stain

FINALISTS:
Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
Millicent Dillon, Harry Gold
Denis Johnson, The Name of the World
Mona Simpson, Off Keck Road

2000

WINNER:
Ha Jin, Waiting

FINALISTS:
Frederick Busch, The Night Inspector
Ken Kalfus, Pu-239 And Other Russian Fantasies
Elizabeth Strout, Amy and Isabelle
Lily Tuck, Siam, or the Woman Who Shot a Man

1999

WINNER:
Michael Cunningham, The Hours

FINALISTS:
Russell Banks, Cloudsplitter
Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible
Brian Morton, Starting Out in the Evening
Richard Selzer, The Doctor Stories

1999

WINNER:
Rafi Zabor, The Bear Comes Home

FINALISTS:
Donald Antrim, The Hundred Brothers
Rilla Askew, The Mercy Seat
Mary Gaitskill, Because They Wanted To
Francisco Goldman, The Ordinary Seaman

1997

WINNER:
Gina Berriault, Women in their Beds

FINALISTS:
Daniel Akst, St. Burl’s Obituary
Kathleen Cambor, The Book of Mercy
Ron Hansen, Atticus
Jamaica Kincaid, The Autobiography of My Mother

1996

WINNER:
Richard Ford, Independence Day

FINALISTS:
Madison Smartt Bell, All Souls’ Rising
William Gass, The Tunnel
Claire Messud, When the World Was Steady
A.J. Verdelle, The Good Negress

1995

WINNER:
David Guterson, Snow Falling on Cedars

FINALISTS:
Frederich Busch, The Children in the Woods
Ursula Hegi, Stones from the River
Joyce Carol Oates, What I Lived For
Joanna Scott, Various Antidotes

1994

WINNER:
Philip Roth, Operation Shylock

FINALISTS:
Stanley Elkin, Van Gogh’s Room at Arles
Dagoberto Gilb, The Magic of Blood
Fae Myenne Ng, Bone
Kate Wheeler, Not Where I Started From

1993

WINNER:
Annie Proulx, Postcards

FINALISTS:
Robert Olen Butler, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
Francisco Goldman, The Long Night of White Chickens
Maureen Howard, Natural History
Sylvia Watanabe, Talking to the Dead

1992

WINNER:
Don DeLillo, Mao II

FINALISTS:
Stephen Dixon, Frog
Paul Gervais, Extraordinary People
Allan Gurganus, White People
Bradford Morrow, The Almanac Branch

1991

WINNER:
John Edgar Wideman, Philadelphia Fire

FINALISTS:
Paul Auster, The Music of Chance
Joanne Meschery, A Gentleman’s Guide to the Frontier
Steven Millhauser, The Barnum Museum
Joanna Scott, Arrogance

1990

WINNER:
E.L. Doctorow, Billy Bathgate

FINALISTS:
Russell Banks, Affliction
Molly Gloss, The Jump-Off Creek
Josephine Jacobsen, On the Island
Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Leaving Brooklyn

1989

WINNER:
James Salter, Dusk

FINALISTS:
Mary McGarry Morris, Vanished
Thomas Savage, The Corner of Rife and Pacific
Isaac Bashevis Singer, The Death of Methuselah

1988

WINNER:
T. Coraghessan Boyle, World’s End

FINALISTS:
Richard Bausch, Spirits
Alice McDermott, That Night
Cynthia Ozick, The Messiah of Stockholm
Lawrence Thornton, Imagining Argentina

1987

WINNER:
Richard Wiley, Soldiers in Hiding

FINALISTS:
Richard Ford, The Sportswriter
Charles Johnson, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Janet Kauffman, Collaborators
Maureen Howard, Expensive Habits

1986

WINNER:
Peter Taylor, The Old Forest and Other Stories

FINALISTS:
William Gaddis, Carpenter’s Gothic
Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove
Hugh Nissenson, The Tree of Life
Helen Norris, The Christmas Wife
Grace Paley, Later the Same Day

1985

WINNER:
Tobias Wolff, The Barracks Thief

FINALISTS:
Harriet Doerr, Stones for Ibarra
Donald Hays, The Dixie Association
David Leavitt, Family Dancing
James Purdy, On Glory’s Courses

1984

WINNER:
John Edgar Wideman, Sent for You Yesterday

FINALISTS:
Ron Hansen, The Assasination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
William Kennedy, Ironweed
Jamaica Kincaid, At the Bottom of the River
Bernard Malamud, The Stories
Cynthia Ozick, The Cannibal Galaxy

1983

WINNER:
Toby Olson, Seaview

FINALISTS:
Maureen Howard, Grace Abounding
Bobbie Ann Mason, Shiloh and Other Stories
George Steiner, The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H.
Anne Tyler, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant
William S. Wilson, Birthplace

1982

WINNER:
David Bradley, The Chaneysville Incident

FINALISTS:
Donald Barthelme, Sixty Stories
Richard Bausch, Take Me Back
Mark Helprin, Ellis Island and Other Stories
Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping
Robert Stone, A Flag for Sunrise

1981

WINNER:
Walter Abish, How German Is It?

FINALISTS:
Shirley Hazzard, The Transit of Venus
Walker Percy, The Second Coming
Gilbert Sorrentino, Aberration of Starlight
John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces

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