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“A poem can inspire a movement. A pamphlet can spark a revolution. Civil disobedience can arouse people and provoke us to think, when we organize with one another, when we get involved, when we stand up and speak out together, we can create a power no government can suppress.”

—Howard Zinn

PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction

The PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award is given for a novel or book of short stories by an American author who has not previously published a book of fiction.

The late Mary Hemingway, a member of PEN, founded the award in 1976 both to honor the memory of her husband, Ernest Hemingway, and to recognize distinguished first books of fiction. The award is funded by the Hemingway Foundation and PEN New England. In addition to $10,000, the winner also receives a one-week residency in The Distinguished Visiting Writers Series at the University of Idaho’s MFA Program in Creative Writing. All competition honorees receive Ucross Residency Fellowships at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming, a retreat for artists and writers.  A panel of three distinguished fiction writers selects the winner.

Major support is provided by Mary & Kurt Cerulli.

The award ceremony for the PEN/Hemingway Award and the PEN New England Awards was held on April 6, 2014.  Watch a video of the awards ceremony below.

All Winners

2014 Winner NoViolet Bulawayo

Born and raised in Zimbabwe, NoViolet Bulawayo earned her MFA at Cornell University, where she was a recipient of the Truman Capote Fellowship, and is now a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Her stories have won the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing and were shortlisted for the 2009 SA PEN Studzinsi Award. Michiko Kakutani, writing in the New York Timesdescribed We Need New Names as a "deeply felt and fiercely written debut novel." Writing in the The Guardianwhere the novel was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Prize, Bulawayo describes the new global reality that inspired the story:

We are living at a time when the world is becoming smallerthrow a stone in a crowded place and you will hit a couple of people who come from somewhere, who are removed from their homelands for one reason or another. I wanted the novel to mirror this reality...


The finalists are Mitchell S. Jackson for The Residue Years (Bloomsbury USA) and Anthony Wallace for The Old Priest (University of Pittsburgh Press).

Mitchell S. Jackson is a Portland, Oregon native who lives in Brooklyn, New York.  He received an MA in writing from Portland State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University.  He has been the recipient of fellowships from Urban Artist Initiative and The Center For Fiction. A former winner of the Hurston Wright Foundation’s award for college writers, he teaches writing at New York University and is the literary editor of Dossier Journal.

Anthony Wallace is a senior lecturer in the Arts and Sciences Writing Program at Boston University, where he is codirector of “Arts Now,” a curriculum-based initiative to support the arts at BU. He has published poetry and short fiction in a number of literary journals, including CutBank, the Atlanta Review, Florida Review, River Styx, and Republic of LettersThe Old Priest is a winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize and the title story won a Pushcart Prize. He and his wife Allene live in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Honorable Mentions

Honorable Mentions go to Jasmine Beach-Ferrara for Damn Love (Ig Publishing), Kristopher Jansma for The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards (Viking), and Ethan Rutherford for The Peripatetic Coffin (Ecco/ HarperCollins).

Jasmine Beach-Ferrara received her MFA from Warren Wilson College and is a recipient of a 2010 NEA Literature Fellowship. Her fiction has appeared in Bellevue Literary ReviewThe Baltimore ReviewHarvard Review, and American Short Fiction. She is a minister in the United Church of Christ and the executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.

Kristopher Jansma received his BA from Johns Hopkins University and an MFA from Columbia University. He writes a column for “The Outlet” about literary artifacts and books in the digital age. He lives in Brooklyn, where he is a Creative Writing Lecturer at SUNY Purchase College.

Ethan Rutherford’s stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories and Ploughshares, and he has received awards from the McKnight Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board. He received his MFA from the University of Minnesota, and has taught creative writing at Macalester College, the University of Minnesota, and the Loft Literary Center.

Watch the 2014 Awards Ceremony

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