What Are the PEN/Faulkner Awards

The PEN/Faulkner Awards recognize outstanding fiction stories written by American citizens. The awards were named after William Faulkner, the Nobel Prize winning novelist, and PEN, an international writers' organization.

Founded in 1980, the PEN/Faulkner Awards aim to bring attention to outstanding works of fiction by American authors. About 300 books or short stories are judged each year. One work is chosen as winner, with the author given a $15,000 prize. Four finalists are also chosen and receive $5,000 each. The five authors attend an awards ceremony to receive their prizes and read excerpts from their work.

PEN/Faulkner Rules
To be eligible for a PEN/Faulkner Award, the author must be living and a citizen of the US. Their work must be a piece of fiction, regardless if it's a full literary book or collection of short stories. The book must have been professionally published in the US within the preceding year. Self-published works are not eligible.

PEN/Faulkner Winners
The first PEN/Faulkner Award winner was "How German Is It?" by Walter Abish in 1981. The story tells the tale of two brothers in Germany after World War II. The novel details human identity both before and after the war. It deals with the horrors of the past and looks into the hopes of the future.

A popular PEN/Faulkner runner up was "Lonesome Dove" by Larry McMurtry in 1986. "Lonesome Dove," which became both a TV series and a motion picture movie, is a passionate and dramatic western. The long tale is about two old friends who drive cattle from Texas to Montana. The story is filled with subplots and surprises from beginning to end. The book also gave birth to a large series of novels.

One of the best known authors to receive a PEN/Faulkner Award was John Updike. Updike won in 2004 for his book "The Early Stories." The collection of short stories follows many themes, but the tales are strung together with Updike's humor, love of the ordinary and eloquent writing style.

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