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2023 PEN America Literary Awards Longlist
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2023 PEN America Literary Awards Longlist

This year’s PEN America Literary Awards will recognize writers and translators whose exceptional literary works were published in 2022 and span fiction, nonfiction, poetry, biography, essay, science writing, translation, and more. The winners will be announced live at the 2023 PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony on March 2.

The Great Stewardess Rebellion

How Women Launched a Workplace Revolution at 30,000 Feet

By: Nell McShane Wulfhart
Narrated by: Bonnie Friel
Length: 10 hours 6 minutes

The empowering true story of a group of spirited stewardesses who “stood up to huge corporations and won, creating momentous change for all working women.” (Gloria Steinem, co-founder of Ms. magazine)

It was the Golden Age of Travel, and everyone wanted in. As flying boomed in the 1960s, women from across the United States applied for jobs as... Read more

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The Viral Underclass

The Human Toll When Inequality and Disease Collide

By: Steven W. Thrasher
Narrated by: Dr. Jonathan M. Metzl & Steven W. Thrasher
Length: 9 hours 26 minutes

This program is read by the author with a foreword written and read by Dr. Jonathan M. Metzl.

"An irresistibly readable and humane exploration of the barbarities of class...readers are gifted that most precious of things in these muddled times: a clear lens through which to see the world."
—Naomi Klein, New York Times bestselling author of This... Read more

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South to America

A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation

By: Imani Perry
Narrated by: Imani Perry
Length: 16 hours 32 minutes

“An elegant meditation on the complexities of the American South—and thus of America—by an esteemed daughter of the South and one of the great intellectuals of our time. An inspiration.” —Isabel Wilkerson, New York Times bestselling author of The Warmth of Other Suns and Caste: The Origins of Our DiscontentsAn essential, surprising journey... Read more

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Bad Mexicans

Race, Empire, and Revolution in the Borderlands

By: Kelly Lytle Hernández
Narrated by: Joana Garcia
Length: 13 hours 34 minutes

Bad Mexicans tells the dramatic story of the magonistas, the migrant rebels who sparked the 1910 Mexican Revolution from the United States. Led by a brilliant but ill-tempered radical named Ricardo Flores Magón, the magonistas were a motley band of journalists, miners, migrant workers, and more, who organized thousands of Mexican workers—and... Read more

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The Inheritors

An Intimate Portrait of South Africa's Racial Reckoning

By: Eve Fairbanks
Narrated by: Janina Edwards
Length: 12 hours 4 minutes

Winner of the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction

This “elegant” and “unfailingly empathetic” narrative (The New York Times) follows three ordinary South Africans living through the most extraordinary reckoning with race and power any modern country has ever faced.

Dipuo, who grew up in apartheid-era Johannesburg’s largest Black... Read more

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After the Ivory Tower Falls

How College Broke the American Dream and Blew Up Our Politics—and How to Fix It

By: Will Bunch
Narrated by: Fred Sanders
Length: 11 hours 12 minutes

From Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Will Bunch, the epic untold story of college—the great political and cultural fault line of American lifeWinner of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia Literary Award | Longlisted for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction | "This book is simply terrific." —Heather Cox Richardson | "Ambitious and... Read more

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Tree Thieves

Crime and Survival in North America's Woods

By: Lyndsie Bourgon
Narrated by: Hayden Bishop
Length: 6 hours 5 minutes

A gripping account of the billion-dollar timber black market—and how it intersects with environmentalism, class, and culture.In Tree Thieves, Lyndsie Bourgon takes us deep into the underbelly of the illegal timber market. As she traces three timber poaching cases, she introduces us to tree poachers, law enforcement, forensic wood specialists,... Read more

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The Naked Don't Fear the Water

An Underground Journey with Afghan Refugees

By: Matthieu Aikins
Narrated by: Nick Nikon
Length: 9 hours 36 minutes

“This is a book of radical empathy, crossing many borders – not just borders that separate nations, but also borders of form, borders of meaning, and borders of possibility. It is powerful and humane and deserves to find a wide, wandering readership.” — Mohsin Hamid, author of Exit WestIn this extraordinary book, an acclaimed young war reporter... Read more

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The Pope at War

The Secret History of Pius XII, Mussolini, and Hitler

By: David I. Kertzer
Narrated by: Arthur Morey
Length: 17 hours 32 minutes

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “The most important book ever written about the Catholic Church and its conduct during World War II.”—Daniel Silva

“Kertzer brings all of his usual detective and narrative skills to [The Pope at War] . . . the most comprehensive account of the Vatican’s relations to the Nazi and fascist regimes before and during the...
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The Hyacinth Girl

T.S. Eliot's Hidden Muse

By: Lyndall Gordon
Narrated by: Buffy Davis
Length: 18 hours 28 minutes

Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, T. S. Eliot was considered the greatest English-language poet of his generation. But there was another side to Eliot, as acclaimed biographer Lyndall Gordon reveals in her new biography, The Hyacinth Girl. While married twice, Eliot had an almost lifelong love for Emily Hale, an American drama teacher to... Read more

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G-Man (Pulitzer Prize Winner)

J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century

By: Beverly Gage
Narrated by: Gabra Zackman
Length: 36 hours 35 minutes

Winner of the 2023 Pulitzer Prize in Biography

Winner of the 2022 National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography, the 2023 Bancroft Prize in American History and Diplomacy, and the 43rd LA Times Book Prize in Biography | Finalist for the 2023 PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography

Named a Best Book of 2022 by The Atlantic, The Washington...
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Dilla Time

The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm

By: Dan Charnas
Narrated by: Dan Charnas
Length: 14 hours 52 minutes

This program contains examples of J Dilla's music performed in the studio by drummer Nate Smith and is accompanied by a bonus PDF of maps, photos, guides, and more.

"This book is a must for everyone interested in illuminating the idea of unexplainable genius.” —QUESTLOVE

Equal parts biography, musicology, and cultural history, Dilla Time...
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Civil Rights Queen

Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality 

By: Tomiko Brown-Nagin
Narrated by: Karen Chilton
Length: 15 hours 57 minutes

A TIME BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR • The first major biography of one of our most influential judges—an activist lawyer who became the first Black woman appointed to the federal judiciary—that provides an eye-opening account of the twin struggles for gender equality and civil rights in the 20th Century. • “Timely and essential."—The Washington Post

“A...
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An American Martyr in Persia

The Epic Life and Tragic Death of Howard Baskerville

By: Reza Aslan
Narrated by: Reza Aslan
Length: 10 hours 2 minutes

In this erudite and piercing biography, best-selling author Reza Aslan proves that one person’s actions can have revolutionary consequences that reverberate the world over.
Little known in America but venerated as a martyr in Iran, Howard Baskerville was a twenty-two-year-old Christian missionary from South Dakota who traveled to Persia... Read more

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Dancing Cockatoos and the Dead Man Test

How Behavior Evolves and Why It Matters

By: Marlene Zuk
Narrated by: Jaime Lamchick
Length: 9 hours 41 minutes

Longlisted for the 2023 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

A lively exploration of animal behavior in all its glorious complexity, whether in tiny wasps, lumbering elephants, or ourselves.

For centuries, people have been returning to the same tired nature-versus-nurture debate, trying to determine what we learn and what we inherit.... Read more

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An Immense World

How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us

By: Ed Yong
Narrated by: Ed Yong
Length: 14 hours 17 minutes

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A “thrilling” (The New York Times), “dazzling” (The Wall Street Journal) tour of the radically different ways that animals perceive the world that will fill you with wonder and forever alter your perspective, by Pulitzer Prize–winning science journalist Ed Yong
 
“One of this year’s finest works of narrative... Read more

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Heartbreak

A Personal and Scientific Journey

By: Florence Williams
Narrated by: Florence Williams
Length: 10 hours 37 minutes

For fans of Wild and Lab Girl, Heartbreak is a uniquely immersive audiobook, merging science and self-discovery to change the way we think about loneliness, health, and what it means to fall in and out of love. When her twenty-five-year marriage unexpectedly falls apart, journalist Florence Williams expects the loss to hurt. What she doesn’t... Read more

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The Big Bang of Numbers

How to Build the Universe Using Only Math

By: Manil Suri
Narrated by: Eric Jason Martin
Length: 8 hours 52 minutes

Our universe has multiple origin stories, from religious creation myths to the Big Bang of scientists. But if we leave those behind and start from nothing—no matter, no cosmos, not even empty space—could we create a universe using only math? Irreverent and boundlessly creative, The Big Bang of Numbers invites us to try.

In this new mathematical... Read more

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The Wine-Dark Sea Within

A Turbulent History of Blood

By: Dr. Dhun Sethna
Narrated by: Chinua Hawk
Length: 11 hours 40 minutes

A revisionist history of medicine, in which blood plays the starring role 
 
Inspired by Homer’s description of the ebb and flow of the “wine dark sea,” the ancient Greeks conceived a back-and-forth movement of blood. That false notion, perpetuated by the influential Roman physician Galen, prevailed for fifteen hundred years until William Harvey... Read more

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A Molecule Away from Madness

Tales of the Hijacked Brain

By: Sara Manning Peskin
Narrated by: Ann Richardson
Length: 5 hours 44 minutes

A neurologist regales readers with extraordinary stories of the brain under siege.Our brains are the most complex machines known to humankind, but they have an Achilles heel: the very molecules that allow us to exist can also sabotage our minds. Here are true accounts of unruly molecules and the diseases that form in their wake, from total loss... Read more

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