Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

teju cole 3

Congrats to Teju Cole for being named a finalist in what might be PEN’s most prestigious prize yet.

The PEN/Jean Stein Book Award is a brand new, multi-genre literary prize designed to recognize a ground-breaking book-length literary work. It comes with a $75,000 award. This makes it PEN’s richest prize, a position that was once held by PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature, which grants a $50,000 cash prize.

His nomination is base on his collection of essays, Known and Strange Things, which was published last year by Random House.

The PEN/Jean Stein Book Award “recognizes a book of extraordinary originality,” a ground-breaking book that challenges established forms, and in so doing, shows it has the  “potential for lasting influence.”

The prize is essentially given to a book considered to be a classic in the making—a book that is so game-changing that one can sense that it will forever be read and be relevant.

Even without winning, being considered for the prize is a big deal. Participation is solely based on nomination by a select panel of judges who remain anonymous all through the review process. Whereas in all the other PEN awards, publishers submit work for consideration, with the PEN/Jean Stein prize, only candidates hand-picked by the judges are invited to participate.

It is no surprise that Cole’s collection of essays made the list. Everyone from Times, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, to The New York Times has christened the book an expression of extraordinary talent. The book contains over 50 essays that explores literature, music, European aesthetic forms, politics, and a range of hot-button issues pertinent to our moment. Cole’s signature writing, beloved by readers the world over, is on full display in the rich and diverse collection of writings

We are seriously rooting for Cole. It is not going to be an easy walk to the 75,000 and the acclaim that comes with it. The contenders in the prize are equally brilliant books: Olio by Tyehimba Jess, The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between by Hisham Matar, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer, and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. All these books are global favorites. Some of you might recall that Whitehead’s book won the the 2016 National Book Award.

Cole’s consideration for this prize makes him the first author in the 54-year existence of PEN America shortlisted for two prizes at the same time. In addition to the PEN/Jean Stein Award, Cole is up for both the $10,000 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay.

The winner of the prize will be announced in an award ceremony scheduled for March 27th in New York City.

This is delightful news. Wishing Cole all the best!

 

FC9780812989786

Known and Strange Things

Teju Cole

Random House

Buy on amazon

 

************

Post image by Wolf Gang via Flickr.

 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad received the 2016 Booker Prize. Whitehead’s novel had instead received the 2016 National Book Award.

Tags: , , , , ,

Ainehi Edoro is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches African literature. She received her doctorate at Duke University. She is the founder and editor of Brittle Paper and series editor of Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writer’s imprint.

3 Responses to “Teju Cole is a Finalist for PEN America’s Richest ($75,000) Prize” Subscribe

  1. Maxwell Onyemaechi January 23, 2017 at 11:01 am #

    Congratulations Teju cole.

  2. Nathan Suhr-Sytsma January 24, 2017 at 12:47 pm #

    Exciting news, and I appreciate all Brittle Paper does! One small point of fact: I think you meant the National Book Award for Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad. (Paul Beatty’s The Sellout took the Man Booker in 2016.)

  3. Otosirieze Obi-Young January 24, 2017 at 3:07 pm #

    Thank you so much, Nathan. The error has been rectified.

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

Ukamaka Olisakwe’s Forthcoming Novel, Ogadinma, Is a Feminist Story Set in ’80s Nigeria

ukamaka olisakwe - ogadinma - graph

The Nigerian writer Ukamaka Olisakwe is set to release a new novel. Titled Ogadinma, or Everything Will Be All Right, […]

Resoketswe Manenzhe Wins 2020 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award for Her Novel, Scatterlings

Resoketswe - Scatterlings @avatar_reso 2

The 2020 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award has been awarded to the South African writer Resoketswe Manenzhe for her novel Scatterlings. […]

Down River Road, a New Print & Online Magazine Exploring the Alternative in Literature, Music, & Visual Art, Calls for Submissions to Second Issue

down river road journal

A new Nairobi-based print and online magazine, down river road, is exploring the margins, the shifting centers, and the new […]

Dr Stella Nyanzi Wins Appeal at Ugandan Court, Regains Freedom, But Is Possibly Re-arrested

stella nyanzi - graph - kampala dispatch

Dr Stella Nyanzi is free. The academic, feminist and queer rights advocate has been in prison for criticising Uganda’s long-serving […]

Apply for This Fully-funded Creative Writing Scholarship at the University of East Anglia, Sponsored by the Miles Morland Foundation

UEA - Literature@UEA Twitter

The Miles Morland Foundation African Writers’ Scholarship is currently accepting accepting applications for its 2020 program. It is an initiative […]

Chinelo Okparanta Recalls Her First Teenage Crush

chinelo okparanta - bucknell university

“I was 16 years old, nearly 17, when a boy first expressed interest in me. Or, maybe it was that […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.