Akwaeke Emezi and Ahmed Bouanani were announced as PEN America 2019 Finalists on January 24, 2019. Emezi is in the running for debut novel Freshwater while Bouanani is there on the strength of his poetry collection The Shutters.
PEN America announces awards in different categories to celebrate the best of writing in that country. In the past, there have been winners from Africa getting these honours like Imbolo Mbue and Helen Oyeyemi.
The finalists for the PEN America Literary Awards 2019 have been announced in several categories with hundreds of thousands of dollars to be awarded. The awards are juried by panels of esteemed, award-winning writers, editors, booksellers, and critics. The categories this year are the PEN/ Robert W Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection, PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, PEN/Hemmingway Award for a Debut Novel, Pen Open Book Award, Pen Translation Prize, Pen Award for Poetry in Translation, PEN/Diamond-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, PEN/Bograd Weld Prize for Biography, PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction, PEN/E.O. Wilson Prize for Literary Science Writing, and PEN/ESPN Awards for Literary Sports Writing.
PEN/HEMINGWAY AWARD FOR A DEBUT NOVEL – Akwaeke Emezi
This award honours a debut novel of exceptional merit published in 2018 by an American author who has not previously published a full-length book of fiction. Akwaeke Emezi has been listed for debut novel Freshwater. Judging this category are Dinaw Mengestu, Cristina García, Scott Simon.
PEN AWARD FOR POETRY IN TRANSLATION ($3,000) – Ahmed Bouanani translated by Emma Ramadan.
This award is given for a book-length translation of poetry from any language into English published in 2018. This year Moroccan author, filmmaker and poet Ahmed Bouanani is in the running for his collection The Shutters. The collection was translated from French to English by Emma Ramadan. This award will be judged by Sinan Antoon, Ewa Chrusciel, Peter Filkins, Katrine Øgaard Jensen
The winners will be announced at the 2019 PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony in New York, USA on February 26.