Noor Naga, Sofia Samatar, Zein El-Amine, Iman Mersal & Robyn Creswell Make 2023 PEN Literary Awards Longlists

JANUARY 20, 2023 — PEN America today announced the longlists for literary awards in eleven categories, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, biography, essay, science writing, and translation: of both poetry and prose.

Among the honored books on the “Jean Stein Book Award” longlist, which goes to “a book-length work of any genre for its originality, merit, and impact, which has broken new ground by reshaping the boundaries of its form and signaling strong potential for lasting influence” — were Noor Naga’s If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English and ArabLit Quarterly contributor Sofia Samatar’s The White Mosque.

On the longlist for the Robert W. Bingham Prize for a Debut Short-story Collection — given to “an author whose debut collection of short stories represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise for future work” — was Zein El-Amine’s Is This How You Eat a Watermelon?

And on the longlist for the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation — judged by Baba Badji, Mona Kareem, and Julia Leverone — is Iman Mersal’s The Threshold, a selection of works from all her extant collections in Arabic, musically (and, when necessary, amusically) translated by Robyn Creswell.

All longlists in all categories were published on the PEN America website.

According to organizers, finalists for all book awards will be announced in February 2023.