The 2015 PEN/Hemingway Award

The PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction is “given for a novel or book of short stories by an American author who has not previously published a book of fiction.” I have found they choose unique books and this year is no different. Of the winner and two finalists, I had only heard of one of the books before.

This year’s award goes to Arna Bontemps Hemenway for his debut collection of short stories, Elegy on Kinderklavier which explores the effect of war on different people’s lives

The finalists are two novelists:

  • Kim Fu, For Today I Am a Boy, a coming of age story about a transgender boy, set in Canada
  • Atticus Lish, Preparation for the Next Life, a love story between a traumatized veteran and a Chinese Muslim immigrant. Lish is the son of inveterate editor Gordon Lish.

All of the books look like interesting reads. And it is exciting to see books that take on challenging topics  winning awards.

And speaking of challenging topics, next week I review Mitchell S. Jackson’s The Residue Years, a book about an African-American family in the 90s crack epidemic in Portland, OR.

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