Sometimes it's hard to get excited about literary awards. There are just so many of them. I'm always happy for the winners, of course, but with, like, nine given out per week, you golf clap and move on. But the 2015 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction finalists list has given me a jolt — this is an amazing and very worthy group of books that'll have me completely stoked for whoever takes home the prize.
You'll recognize some — possibly all — of the names right away:
- Cynthia Bond - Ruby (Hogarth)
- Molly Antopol - The UnAmericans (Norton)
- Phil Klay - Redeployment (Penguin Press)
- Merritt Tierce - Love Me Back (Doubleday)
- Jack Livings - The Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Told you some of these might look familiar; Ruby is, of course, Oprah's newest book club selection, and Redeployment just snagged the 2014 National Book Award, for instance. But all of these authors have been making headlines all year for the way they tackle issues like race, sex, and war in their pages, and use varied form and voice to amplify and confront their themes. I couldn't be more excited about the mix of titles on this list, and to see who takes home the $25,000 prize during a June 8 ceremony at New York's New School.
The rest of the 2015 PEN Literary Award award shortlist went up today, too; among the writers honored across fiction, poetry, and nonfiction are Claudia Rankine, Roxane Gay, Naomi Klein, and Leslie Jamison — all names we know and love, love, love. Go check 'em all out, and stay tuned for when the winners are announced on May 13.