PEN America has announced its 2021 longlist for its annual literary awards.

This year, the longlist features seven African writers in the following categories: the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, the PEN Open Book Award, and the PEN Translation Prize.

Akwaeke Emezi’s latest novel, The Death of Vivek Oji, is longlisted for the highly competitive PEN/Jean Stein Book Award ($75,000) for “its originality, merit, and impact, which has broken new ground by reshaping the boundaries of its form and signaling strong potential for lasting influence.”

Though 2020 was a difficult year for most, it was an exceptional one for Emezi with The Death of Vivek Oji listed among the Best Books of the Year by The New York TimesThe Washington Post, NPR, ElleHarper’s BazaarTeen Vogue, and Vulture.

Click here to read an excerpt from The Death of Vivek Oji. 

The longlist for the PEN Open Book Award ($10,000) for “an exceptional book-length work of any literary genre by an author of color” features Leila Chatti’s latest book of poetry, Deluge, and Hafizah Geter’s debut poetry collection, Un-American.

Chatti expressed her gratitude in a post on Instagram. “So much has felt surreal, and this incredible honor has reminded me the book is real, in the world, and my dreams are not passing fevers,” she wrote.


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A post shared by Leila Chatti (@laypay)

Geter shared her response on Twitter:

The longlist for the PEN Translation Prize ($3,000) for “a book-length translation of prose from any language into English” features novels by four African writers:

  • A Country for Dying by Abdellah Taïa
    Translated from the French by Emma Ramadan
  • Mansour’s Eyes by Ryad Girod
    Translated from the French by Chris Clarke
  • Our Riches by Kaouther Adimi
    Translated from the French by Chris Andrews
  • That Hair by Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida
    Translated from the Portuguese by Eric M. B. Becker

The shortlist will be announced in February.

Congratulations to Akwaeke Emezi, Leila Chatti, Hafizah Geter, Abdellah Taïa, Ryan Girod, Kaouther Adimi, and Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida!