TEJU COLE BECOMES FIRST WRITER EVER TO BE NAMED FINALIST FOR TWO PEN AMERICA LITERARY AWARDS
Image Credit: Teju Cole/Tim Knox
Teju Cole has been announced amongst the finalists for the 2017 Pen America Literary Awards. The Nigerian- American writer becomes the first writer in the award program’s 54-year history to be named a finalist in two categories for his collection of essays Known and Strange Things (Random House).
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The two categories are: PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000): For a book of essays published in 2016 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature.
And the the newly endowed PEN/Jean Stein Book Award ($75,000): To recognize a book-length work of any genre for its originality, merit, and impact.
Like many other literary awards, PEN America allows publishers to submit a book to only one category. But the introduction this year of the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, a new prize in 2017 for a book of extraordinary originality and lasting influence judged by an anonymous panel without submissions, for the first time has opened the opportunity for Cole’s book—also a finalist in the category for essay—to be considered for more than one honor.
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Other African writers on the list include: Yaa Gyasi under PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction for her debut novel, Homegoing ( Alfred A. Knopf/ Penguin Random House) Petina Gapped under PEN Open Book Award ($5,000): For an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2016. For her novel ‘The Book of Memory (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux).
Helen Oyeyemi under PEN Open Book Award ($5,000): For an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2016. For her novel ‘ What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours (Riverhead Books/Penguin Random House).
The winners for all 2017 awards will be announced on February 22, with a few notable exceptions. Winners of the PEN/ Jean Stein Book Award, PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, PEN/ Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, and the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature will be announced live on March 27 at the 2017 PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony, which will be held for the first time at The New School’s John L. Tishman Auditorium in Manhattan.
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A list of all finalists can be found on PEN America’s website, here.