Dear Literary Prizes, Don’t Honor That Wall


On Tuesday morning, this tweet flashed across the wide and lonely social-media landscape:

This new PEN award, named for Robert J. Dau, is different from the other two PEN American projects currently open for submissions.

The PEN submittable lists three current awards: 1) The aforementioned emerging-writer prize that ElectricLit calls big news; 2) a  2017 PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship; and 2) the 2017 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants that have twice (one, two) been featured on ArabLit this summer, in part because the prize needs more diverse submissions.

The PEN/Heim Translation Grant may have its flaws. But one notable un-flaw is that, “There are no restrictions on the nationality or citizenship of the translator[.]”

The Phyllis Naylor award rules don’t explicitly announce their openness to world authors, but there’s no…

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