Friday, September 4, 2009

PEN ANNOUNCES 2009 BEYOND MARGINS AWARD RECIPIENTS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information, contact: Nick Burd, (212) 334-1660, ext. 108

PEN ANNOUNCES 2009 BEYOND MARGINS AWARD RECIPIENTS

New York, NY, September 3, 2009—Anthony Appiah, President of PEN American Center, the national association of literary writers, and Elissa Schappell, Chair of the PEN Literary Awards Committee, have announced the winners of the 2009 PEN Beyond Margins Award. The PEN Beyond Margins Awards celebrate outstanding books by writers of color published in the United States during the previous year.

This year’s recipients are Uwem Akpan for Say You’re One of Them (Little, Brown and Company), Juan Felipe Herrera for Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems (University of Arizona Press), and Lily Hoang for Changing (Fairy Tale Review Press). Each will receive $1,000 and will be honored at the PEN Beyond Margins Celebration on December 2 at Housing Works Bookstore Café in New York City. The evening will feature readings and a panel discussion moderated by Jane Ciabattari, President of the National Book Critics Circle.

Uwem Akpan was born in the village of Ikot Akpan Eda in southern Nigeria. After studying philosophy and English at Creighton and Gonzaga universities, he studied theology for three years at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. He was ordained as a Jesuit priest in 2003 and received his MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan in 2006. “My Parents’ Bedroom,” a story from his short story collection, Say You’re One of Them, was one of five short stories by African writers chosen as finalists for The Caine Prize for African Writing 2007. Say You’re One of Them also won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (Africa Region) 2009 and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. In 2007, Akpan taught at a Jesuit college in Harare, Zimbabwe, and in 2008, he began ministering at Christ the King Church, Ilasamaja-Lagos, Nigeria.

Juan Felipe Herrera, son of migrant farmworkers, is a Chicano poet born in Fowler, California. In addition to his 24 books, his recent books are Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems (University of Arizona Press)—one of the New York Times Best Books of 2008 and winner of the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry and 2009 Latino International Award in Poetry—and 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border: Undocuments (City Lights), which won the 2008 PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles National Poetry Award. He is the Tomás Rivera Endowed Chair in the Department of Creative Writing at UC Riverside.

Lily Hoang's first book Parabola won the Chiasmus Press Un-Doing the Novel Contest in 2006. She is also the author of the forthcoming novels The Evolutionary Revolution (Les Figues Press) and Invisible Women (StepSister Press, 2010). She is Associate Editor of Starcherone Books.

The Beyond Margins Award is one of the many ways in which the Open Book Program encourages racial and ethnic diversity within the literary and publishing communities. The Open Book Committee works to increase the literature by, for, and about African, Arab, Asian, Caribbean, Latin, and Native Americans, and to establish access for these groups to the publishing industry. Its goal is to ensure that those who are the custodians of language and literature are representative of the American people.

For more information about the PEN Beyond Margins Awards please contact Literary Awards Program Manager Nick Burd at 212-334-1660, ext. 108, or nick@pen.org
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