Kao Kalia Yang and her father, Bee Yang. Photo by Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

Kao Kalia Yang and her father, Bee Yang. Photo by Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

PEN Center USA has released its list of finalists for its annual Literary Awards, and two Twin Cities writers are in the mix. Kao Kalia Yang of St. Paul is a finalist in creative nonfiction for her memoir, "The Song Poet," and Sun Yung Shin of Minneapolis is a poetry finalist for "Unbearable Splendor," published by Minneapolis publisher Coffee House Press. Graywolf Press also has a book in the running with Solmaz Sharif's "Look." Shane Bauer, formerly of Minnesota, is a finalist for long-form journalism for a piece he wrote for Mother Jones.

Here are the finalists:


Karan Mahajan, The Association of Small Bombs (Viking)

Lydia Millet, Sweet Lamb Of Heaven (W.W. Norton & Co.)

Bonnie Nadzam, Lions (Grove Atlantic)

Martin Pousson, Black Sheep Boy (Rare Bird)

Creative Nonfiction: 

Brian Blanchfield, Proxies (Nightboat)

Lily Hoang, A Bestiary (Cleveland State University Poetry Center)

Dr. Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air (Random House)

Kao Kalia Yang, The Song Poet (Metropolitan)

Research Nonfiction: 

Timothy Egan, The Immortal Irishman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Edward Humes, Door To Door (Harper)

Mason Inman, The Oracle Of Oil (W.W. Norton)

Elizabeth Letts, The Perfect Horse (Ballantine)

Sun Yung Shin

Sun Yung Shin

Sun Yung Shin


Ari Banias, Anybody: Poems (W.W. Norton & Co.)

Solmaz Sharif, Look (Graywolf)

Sun Yung Shin, Unbearable Splendor (Coffee House Press)

Safiya Sinclair, Cannibal (University of Nebraska Press)

Young Adult:

Calla Devlin, Tell Me Something Real (Simon & Schuster/Atheneum Books for Young Readers)

Stacey Lee, Outrun The Moon (GP Putnam's Sons, Penguin Books for Young Readers)

Neal Shusterman, Scythe (Simon & Schuster/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

John Smelcer, Stealing Indians (Leapfrog Press)


Kareem James Abu-Zeid, Confessions by Rabee Jaber (New Directions)

Philip Boehm, The Fox Was Ever The Hunter by Herta Müller (Metropolitan)

Geoffrey Brock, Six Memos For The Next Millennium by Italo Calvino (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Jordan Stump, Cockroaches by Scholastique Mukasonga (Archipelago)


Shane Bauer, “My Four Months As A Prison Guard” (Mother Jones)

Pamela Colloff, “The Reckoning” (Texas Monthly)

Christopher Goffard, “Framed” (Los Angeles Times)

Eli Saslow, “The White Flight Of Derek Black” (The Washington Post)


Boni Alvarez, Bloodletting (Playwrights’ Arena)

Michelle Carter, Rose In America (AlterTheater)

Lisa Loomer, Roe (Oregon Shakespeare Festival)

Will Snider, How To Use A Knife (Capital Stage Company)

Winners will be announced in September.

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