Free Samples of the PEN Literary Award Nominees

By Jason Boog Comment

PEN has released the shortlists for the 2013 PEN Literary Awards, revealing the nominees for ten different prizes this year.

Below, we’ve collected free samples of all the nominated books, a great way to explore the best books of the past year.

If you want more free book samples, we made similar literary mixtapes linking to free samples of the most overlooked books of the year, the ALA Youth Media Award winners, the 2012 Man Booker Longlist, the Best Horror Novels of the Year, the LA Times Book Prize nominees, and the Nebula Award nominees.

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize Shortlist ($25,000): “To an author whose debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2012—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.”

 A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

A Naked Singularity by Sergio de la Pava

My Only Wife by Jac Jemc

Happiness Is a Chemical in the Brain by Lucia Perillo

Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins


PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction Shortlist ($10,000): “To an author of a distinguished book of general nonfiction possessing notable literary merit and critical perspective and illuminating important contemporary issues which has been published in the United States during 2011 or 2012.”

Iron Curtain by Anne Applebaum

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

Moby-Duck by Donovan Hohn

God’s Hotel by Victoria Sweet


PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay Shortlist ($10,000): “For a book of essays published in 2012 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature.”

What Light Can Do by Robert Hass

The Story of America by Jill Lepore

Waiting for the Barbarians by Daniel Mendelsohn


PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award Shortlist ($10,000): For a book of literary nonfiction on the subject of the physical or biological sciences published in 2012.

The Forest Unseen by David George Haskell

The Violinist’s Thumb by Sam Kean

Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow

Spillover by David Quammen

Rabid by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy


PEN Open Book Award Shortlist ($5,000): “For an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2012.”

Gun Dealers’ Daughter by Gina Apostol

When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz

Allegiance by Francine J. Harris

Our Andromeda by Brenda Shaughnessy

The Grey Album by Kevin Young


PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography Shortlist ($5,000): “For a distinguished biography published in 2012.”

James Joyce by Gordon Bowker

All We Know by Lisa Cohen

A Difficult Woman by Alice Kessler-Harris

The Lives of Margaret Fuller by John Matteson

The Black Count by Tom Reiss


PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing Shortlist ($5,000): “To honor a nonfiction book on the subject of sports published in 2012.”

Over Time by Frank Deford

Road to Valor by Aili and Andres McConnon

Like Any Normal Day by Mark Kram, Jr.

Floyd Patterson by W.K. Stratton


PEN/Steven Kroll Award for Picture Book Writing Shortlist ($5,000): “To a writer for an exceptional story illustrated in a picture book published in 2012.”

Snakes by Nic Bishop

Oh, No! by Candace Fleming and illustrator Andrea Castellani

I Lay My Stitches Down by Cynthia Grady and illustrator Michele Wood

Those Rebels, John & Tom by Barbara Kerley and illustrator Edwin Fotheringham

The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel and illustrator Amanda Hall


PEN Award for Poetry in Translation Shortlist ($3,000): For a book-length translation of poetry into English published in 2012.

Spit Temple by Cecilia Vicuña (Ugly Duckling Presse), Rosa Alcalá

Diadem by Marosa di Giorgio (BOA Editions), Adam Giannelli

Tales of a Severed Head by Rachida Madani (Yale University Press), Marilyn Hacker

The Smoke of Distant Fires by Eduardo Chirinos (Open Letter Books), G. J. Racz

Almost 1 Book/Almost 1 Life by Elfriede Czurda (Burning Deck), Rosmarie Waldrop

The Shock of the Lenders and Other Poems by Jorge Santiago Perednik (Action Books), Molly Weigel


PEN Translation Prize ($3,000) Shortlist: “For a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2012.”

A Long Day’s Evening by Bilge Karasu (City Lights Books), Aron Aji and Fred Stark

Near to the Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector (New Directions), Alison Entrekin

Down the Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Rosalind Harvey

The Cardboard House by Martín Adán (New Directions), Katherine Silver

The Island of Second Sight by Albert Vigoleis Thelen (Overlook Press), Donald O. White