Better Late Than Never Dept.: The PEN 2014 Literary Award Shortlist

pen2014logoSometimes I’m late in keeping current with literary competition news here, and then sometimes I’m criminally late. My lack of commentary on the PEN 2014 Literary Awards would fall into that last category, unfortunately. So I’m going to do my best to catch us all up, starting with the fact that PEN America announced the shortlist for its nine book awards a little less than a month ago. It’s an interesting selection, light on the titles you’ll find on every other list, and heavy—especially in the debut fiction category—on smaller presses, which always cheers me.

I’m not going to link to all the shortlisted selections, but I will send you over to GalleyCat’s page of free samples from each of the nominees, which should give you at least a taste of what’s on deck. And if you like what you see, take a look at their longlist as well—there’s a lot of good work that may have flown below various forms of radar this year. I also owe them one, since they linked to my review of Christopher Hacker’s The Morels on their Recommended Reading: Debut Fiction page back in May. The winners aren’t announced until the end of this month, which gives everyone three solid weeks of blissful summer reading to pick a few favorites and run with them. There are no Goldfinches here—every one of these has some complex odds on it—so it should be an interesting contest. If I had an extra couple of months and nothing else to do, I’d be perfectly happy to read my way through the entire list. As it is, I’ll be happy to have a couple more under my belt by the time the winner is announced.

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