PEN America Announces New $50,000 PEN/Nabokov Award

Posted on August 14, 2016

PEN America announced that it is reinstating its PEN/Nabokov Award which is given to a writer born or residing outside the United States whose work is written in English or has been translated into English. The award is not a one-off; winners must have an outstanding body of work over a sustained career. The award carries a $50,000 cash prize to a writer whose work which has the power to, "evoke to some measure Nabokov's brilliant versatility and commitment to literature as a search for the deepest truth and the highest pleasure."

Literary agent Andrew Wylie heads up the Vladimir Nabokov Literary Foundation, which provides support for the award. The body of work can be fiction, nonfiction, poetry and/or drama. The award is not a new one, it's actually being revived from literary awards purgatory with an international twist. PEN America and the Nabokov Literary Foundation created the award in 2000 and it was awarded every two years fiction until 2008. The award carried a $20,000 prize. Winners included Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick and William H. Gass.

Now the award is back with an international twist, and the prize is much bigger. PEN America President Andrew Solomon explained why PEN America is introducing a new award to focus on international writers. He explained, "At a time when there is too little dialogue between nations, it will draw attention to outstanding global voices that may be unknown to most U.S. readers. He also referenced the current political climate in the U.S. and around the globe, saying, "It is a welcome counterbalance to rampant xenophobia and increasingly jingoistic provincialism."

The nominations must go through the submission committee: they won't take public nominations. The PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature will be awarded in February, 2017, at the PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony in New York City.

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