PEN America has announced the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers, the newest addition to its lineup of literary awards. The award recognizes twelve emerging writers of fiction for their debut stories, which must be published in a literary magazine or on a cultural website in 2016.
Each of the winning writers of the inaugural contest will receive a $2,000 prize and be honored at the PEN Literary Awards ceremony in New York in spring 2017. The award is sponsored by the family of Robert J. Dau.
The winning stories will also be collected in an annual anthology to be published yearly by the New York-based independent publisher Catapult. Paul Morris, PEN's director of literary programs, told PW that the organizations hope the collection will be produced a few months after the announcement of the winners, so as to be ready for summer reading lists in May or June.
“So far, the list of those who have agreed to submit is both substantial and impressive, and we anticipate some excellent stories in its inaugural year," Morris said. "What makes this award also very special, in addition to helping launch the careers of new writers, is that we get to work and build greater connective tissue with so many excellent literary journals and reviews."
Morris added that PEN anticipates that the funding necessary to present award will be renewed after the inaugural year.
"The award donor herself is in this for the long haul, so we envision a time far off in the future when there is a whole shelf in personal libraries and bookstores dedicated to showcasing 25 plus years of The PEN America Best Debut Short Stories."
To date, magazines and websites whose writers have submitted stories include A Public Space, BOMB, Electric Literature, Iowa Review, Paris Review, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The New Yorker, and Tin House, among others.