Layli Long Soldier.

Layli Long Soldier.

PEN America has announced the finalists for this year's literary awards, and, once again, MInneapolis's Graywolf Press is front and center, with five books in the running.

Two books -- "Bunk," by Kevin Young, and "Whereas," by Layli Long Soldier -- are among the five finalists for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, a $75,000 award that goes to a ground-breaking book that will be of lasting importance. "Bunk" and "Whereas" were both long-listed for the National Book Award and both are finalists for awards by the National Book Critics Circle.

Other Graywolf books on the PEN short lists include "Her Body and Other Parties," by Carmen Maria Machado, also a finalist for a National Book Award and winner of the NBCC John Leonard Prize for best first book; "Lessons on Explusion," poems by Erika L. Sanchez; and "The Impossible Fairy Tale," by Han Yujoo, translated by Janet Hong.

Also on the shortlist: Edina native Emily Fridlund for her debut novel, "History of Wolves," which was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize.

Here are all of the finalists. The awards will be announced on Feb. 20 in New York.


To the author of a book-length work of any genre for its originality, merit, and impact, and that has broken new ground by reshaping the boundaries of its form and signaling strong potential for lasting influence.

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, Ta-Nehisi Coates (One World)

White Tears, Hari Kunzru (Vintage Contemporaries/Knopf)

The Changeling, Victor LaValle (Spiegel & Grau)

Whereas, Layli Long Soldier (Graywolf Press)

Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News, Kevin Young (Graywolf Press)


To an author whose debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2017—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise. 

Sonora, Hannah Lillith Assadi (Soho Press)

Black Jesus and Other Superheroes, Venita Blackburn (University of Nebraska Press)

History of Wolves, Emily Fridlund (Atlantic Monthly Press)

Her Body and Other Parties: Stories, Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf Press)

Sour Heart, Jenny Zhang (Lenny)


To an exceptional book-length work of any genre by an author of color, published in the United States in 2017. JUDGES: Eduardo C. Corral,  Kaitlyn Greenidge, Amy Quan Barry.

My Soul Looks Back: A Memoir, Jessica B. Harris (Scribner)

Augustown, Kei Miller (Pantheon)

A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa, Alexis Okeowo (Hachette)

Lessons on Expulsion: Poems, Erika L. Sánchez (Graywolf Press)

Ordinary Beast: Poems, Nicole Sealey (Ecco)


For a book-length translation of prose from any language into English published in 2017. 

The Book of Emma Reyes, Emma Reyes (Penguin) translated from the Spanish by Daniel Alarcón

A Horse Walks into a Bar, David Grossman (Vintage) translated from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen

Out in the Open, Jesús Carrasco (Riverhead Books) translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa

The Impossible Fairy Tale, Han Yujoo (Graywolf Press) translated from the Korean by Janet Hong

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Katalin Street, Magda Szabó (NYRB Classics) translated from the Hungarian by Len Rix


For a book of essays published in 2017 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature. 

You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks, & Other Mixed Messages, Carina Chocano (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London, Lauren Elkin (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Alpine Apprentice: A Memoir, Sarah Gorham (University of Georgia Press)

No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, Ursula K. Le Guin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Because It Is So Beautiful: Unraveling the Mystique of the American West, Robert Leonard Reid (Counterpoint Press)


For a distinguished biography published in 2017. 

Grant, Ron Chernow (Penguin Press)

Richard Nixon: The Life, John A. Farrell (Doubleday)

Chester B. Himes: A Biography, Lawrence P. Jackson (W. W. Norton & Company)

You Say to Brick: The Life of Louis Kahn, Wendy Lesser (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Lenin: The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror, Victor Sebestyen (Pantheon)


For a book that exemplifies literary excellence on the subject of the physical or biological sciences and communicates complex scientific concepts to a lay audience. 

American Eclipse: A Nation’s Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World, David Baron (Liveright)

The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine, Lindsey Fitzharris (Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life, David Montgomery (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.)

No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America, Ron Powers (Hachette Books)

Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst, Robert Sapolsky (Penguin Press)


To honor a nonfiction book on the subject of sports published in 2017. 

Ali: A Life, Jonathan Eig (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

The Arena: Inside the Tailgating, Ticket-Scalping, Mascot-Racing, Dubiously Funded, and Possibly Haunted Monuments of American Sport, Rafi Kohan (Liveright)

Sting Like a Bee: Muhammad Ali vs. the United States of America, 1966–1971, Leigh Montville (Doubleday)

City of Dreams: Dodger Stadium and the Birth of Modern Los Angeles, Jerald Podair (Princeton University Press)

Bones: Brothers, Horses, Cartels, and the Borderland Dream, Joe Tone (One World)

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