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The 2012 PEN Awards: Winners Announced

PEN American Center is pleased to announce the winners of the 2012 PEN Awards, the most comprehensive literary awards program in the country.

This year, PEN is presenting 18 awards, fellowships, grants and prizes–including two awards offered for the first time ever: the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, founded by Barbara Kingsolver and first established in 2000, and the PEN/Steven Kroll Award for text in an illustrated picture book.

Award winners and runners-up will be honored at the 2012 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, October 23, 2012, at CUNY Graduate Center’s Proshansky Auditorium in New York City.

Some of the award winners include the following:

The PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction has been awarded to Susan Nussbaum, author of Good Kings Bad Kings. The award of $25,000 is presented to an author of an unpublished novel that addresses issues of social justice. The prize also includes a publishing contract with Algonquin Books. The judges include Rosellen Brown, Margo Livesey and Kathy Pories.

The PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize of $25,000 is being presented to Vanessa Veselka for her work, Zazen. This award is given to a fiction writer whose debut work, published in 2011, represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise. The judges include Lauren Groff, Dinaw Mengestu, and Nami Mun.

The PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship is presented to an author of children’s or young-adult fiction, who has published at least two books, to complete a book-length work-in-progress. This year’s award will be presented to Sarah Dooley for Free Verse.

The new PEN/Steven Kroll Award Honoring the Author of an Illustrated Children’s Book is being given to Patricia C. McKissack for Never Forgotten. This award is presented to a writer for an exceptional story illustrated in a picture book published in 2011.

The PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry is presented to a poet whose distinguished and growing body of work represents a notable presence in American literature. Toi Derricotte will be honored with this year’s award.

This year marks PEN’s 90th anniversary. Writers have been honored with the PEN’s Literary Awards Program for more than fifty of those years.


Jess Ptak
Jess Ptak is a Master of Arts candidate in English Literature at Mercy College. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Pace University in Pleasantville, New York. Jess lives in the Hudson Valley with her family, where she enjoys crafting handmade stationery and spending time with her husband and daughter.
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