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PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

Read our exclusive interview with the 2012 winner, Julie Otsuka, here.

PEN/Faulker AwardWhen Mary Lee Settle won the 1978 National Book Award for her novel Blood Tie, she invited to join the judging panel for the subsequent year. 1979 proved to be controversial: the judges awarded the prize to Tim O'Brien's Going after Cacciato, not the overwhelming favourite (and already a bestseller) The World according to Garp by John Irving.

The reaction of the New York-based based publishing industry at the relative obscurity of their judges' choice was to withdraw its support for the National Book Award and to switch their back for a new award founded by Mary Lee Settle.

Affiliated with International PEN, the worldwide association of writers set up to promote freedom of speech, the PEN/Faulkner Award was named in tribute William Faulkner, who had donated his 1949 Nobel Prize money to fund awards for younger writers and whose writing has been particularly inspirational for Settle. The responsibility of judging was given to a large pool of writers, rather than the industry insiders who tended to be on the panels for other major awards.

The first award was made in 1981 and has grown in reputation ever since. The only multiple winners so far are Philip Roth (three times) and EL Doctorow and Ha Jin (both twice).

Both novels and short story collections are eligible. A shortlist of five books is announced in January, with the winner declared in March. The winner receives $15,000 and the other four authors $5000. Later in the year, all five authors are also invited to read at a ceremony held at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC.

 

 

Previous winners

 

2015 Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish

2014 We Are Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

2013 Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
2012 The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
2011 The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg by Deborah Eisenberg
2010 War Dances by Sherman Alexie
2009 Netherland by Joseph O'Neill
2008 The Great Man by Kate Christensen
2007 Everyman by Philip Roth
2006 The March by EL Doctorow
2005 War Trash by Ha Jin
2004 The Early Stories: 1953-1974 by John Updike
2003 The Caprices by Sabina Murray (currently out of print in the UK)
2002 Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
2001 The Human Stain by Philip Roth
2000 Waiting by Ha Jin
1999 The Hours by Michael Cunningham
1998 The Bear Comes Home by Rafi Zabor (currently out of print in the UK)
1997 Women in their Beds by Gina Berriault (currently out of print in the UK)
1996 Independence Day by Richard Ford
1995 Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
1994 Operation Shylock by Philip Roth
1993 Postcards by Annie Proulx
1992 Mao II by Don DeLillo
1991 Philadelphia Fore by John Wiseman
1990 Billy Bathgate by EL Doctorow
1989 Dusk and Other Stories by James Salter
1988 World's End by T Coraghessan Boyle
1987 Soldiers in Hiding by Richard Wiley
1986 The Old Forest by Peter Taylor (currently out of print in the UK)
1985 The Barracks Thief by Tobias Wolff (currently out of print in the UK)
1984 Sent for You Yesterday by John Edgar Wideman (currently out of print in the UK)
1983 Seaview by Toby Olson
1982 The Chaneysville Incident by David Bradley (currently out of print in the UK)
1981 How German is It by Walter Abish (currently out of print in the UK)

 

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