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2021 Pen America Literary Award Winners

Since 1963, the PEN America Literary Awards Program has honored outstanding voices in fiction, poetry, science writing, essays, biography, children’s literature, translation, drama, and more. Here are the 2021 winners, juried by panels of esteemed, award-winning writers, editors, booksellers, and critics.

Playlist Tags: awards: pen america

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By Asako Serizawa
Narrated by: Feodor Chin, Ren Hanami, Catherine Ho, Greta Jung, Akie Kotabe & Nancy Wu
Length: 9 hours 2 minutes

"This splendid story collection is a sword through the heart."--Ben Fountain

From the O. Henry Prize-winning author comes a heartbreakingly beautiful and brutal exploration of lives fragmented by the Pacific side of World War II.

Spanning more than 150 years, and set in multiple locations in colonial and postcolonial Asia and the United... Read more »

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Had I Known

Collected Essays

By Barbara Ehrenreich
Narrated by: Suzanne Toren
Length: 10 hours 49 minutes

Winner of the 2021 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, HAD I KNOWN contains the most provocative, incendiary, and career-making pieces by bestselling author, essayist, political activist, and "veteran muckraker" Barbara Ehrenreich (The New Yorker).

A self-proclaimed "myth buster by trade," Barbara Ehrenreich has covered an... Read more »

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Owls of the Eastern Ice

A Quest to Find and Save the World's Largest Owl

By Jonathan C. Slaght
Narrated by: Jonathan C. Slaght
Length: 8 hours 43 minutes

Owls of the Eastern Ice

“Ever wonder what it’s actually like on these months-long trips into the field to study wildlife? This fascinating study of the largest owls in the world will take you out over oceans and deep into the taiga of far eastern Siberia. My wanderlust has been officially stoked.”

Tattered Cover image Jeremy, Tattered Cover
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Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments

Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval

By Saidiya Hartman
Narrated by: Allyson Johnson
Length: 10 hours 5 minutes

In Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, Saidiya Hartman examines the revolution of black intimate life that unfolded in Philadelphia and New York at the beginning of the twentieth century. Free love, common-law and transient marriages, queer relations, and single motherhood were among the sweeping changes that altered the character of everyday... Read more »

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Stranger in the Shogun's City

A Japanese Woman and Her World

By Amy Stanley
Narrated by: Joy Osmanski
Length: 10 hours 1 minutes

*Winner of the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award*
*Winner of the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography*

A vivid, deeply researched work of history that explores the life of an unconventional woman during the first half of the 19th century in Edo—the city that would become Tokyo—and a portrait of a great city on the brink of a... Read more »

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Sharks in the Time of Saviors

By Kawai Strong Washburn
Narrated by: Jolene Kim, Tui Asau, Kaleo Griffith & G.K. Bowes
Length: 10 hours 37 minutes

Sharks in the Time of Saviors

“Night Marchers, gods, goddesses, and the dead all walk Hawaii with the Flores family, if only they can stop struggling to survive long enough to see them. At seven years old, Nainoa falls into the Pacific only to be brought back to his mother in the mouth of a shark, unharmed and now burdened with the rumor of legend. Noa struggles to understand his gift and what he is supposed to do with it, and each of his family members grapples with their role as well. Every character is imbued with the truths of family and the magic of legend and you will not close this book unchanged. Beautiful and a must read! The readers on grant entrance in to this world with an authenticity difficult to obtain otherwise.”

Cellar Door Books image Linda, Cellar Door Books
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