Three Columbia Authors Make the PEN America Literary Awards Longlist

Jessie Shohfi
January 27, 2023

PEN America has announced the longlist for their 2023 Literary Awards, naming three Columbia authors in the fields of nonfiction, poetry, and fiction. This year, the Literary Awards will confer over $350,000 to writers and translators. “Spanning fiction, nonfiction, poetry, biography, essay, science writing, translation, and more," says PEN America, "these Longlisted books are dynamic, diverse, and thought-provoking examples of literary excellence.” Finalists for each award will be announced in February 2023.

Associate Professor Hilton Als has been nominated for the PEN/Jean Stein Award, which is presented to a “book-length work of any genre for its originality, merit, and impact, which has broken new ground by reshaping the boundaries of its form and signaling strong potential for lasting influence.” This year, the $75,000 award will be judged by Joan Naviyuk Kane, Lauren Groff, and Madeleine Thien.

Als is nominated for My Pinup (New Directions, 2022), a work of nonfiction that explores Als’ love for the artist Prince, from his discovery of Prince’s music, to Als’ first professional meeting with him, to the myriad ways Prince, his music, and his cultural impact have guided and affected Als’ own life. 

My Pinup is available for purchase here.

Associate Professor Shane McCrae is nominated for the PEN/Voelcker Award, which is given to a poet “whose distinguished collection of poetry represents a notable and accomplished literary presence.” The $5,000 award will be judged by Kimiko Hahn, Molly McCully Brown, Allison Rollins, and Willie Perdomo. 

Cain Named The Animal (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2022) is McCrae’s “prophetic new collection of poems” (The New Yorker), expanding upon the biblical world he has fashioned in his previous works. This work was also shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection in 2022.

Cain Named the Animal is available for purchase here

Alumna Jessamine Chan '12 is nominated for the PEN/Hemingway Award, presented to a “debut novel of exceptional literary merit by an American author.” This year, the $10,000 award will be decided by judges Gina Apostol, Oscar Cásares, and Assistant Professor of Writing at the School of the Arts, Matthew Salesses

Chan is nominated for her novel, The School for Good Mothers, which was shortlisted for the First Novel Prize in 2022. A New York Times bestseller, Chan’s novel follows Frida, a mother who is trying to do her best in unfortunate circumstances. Things go from bad to worse as a Big Brother-type organization swoops down on her, wielding oppressive power and challenging her competence as a mother.

The School for Good Mothers is available for purchase here

All of the 2023 PEN America Literary Awards will be presented at a ceremony at New York’s Town Hall, on Thursday, March 2. The event is open to the public, and tickets are available for purchase now, with a special discounted rate available for students. All proceeds from ticket sales will support PEN America's Literary Awards and Grants programs, which provide vital recognition and transformative support to writers at all stages of their careers.