Winners of the 2017 PEN Southwest Book Awards

PEN Texas is pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Southwest Book Awards. The winners in each category receive a $500 prize.

Creative Nonfiction
Judge: Robin Underdahl

Edward McPherson
The History of the Future: American Essays
Coffee House Press

Judge’s Comments: “The History of the Future is about contradictions. It plumbs the shame and glory of seven locations in the United States: Dallas, Gettysburg, St. Louis, New York City, Los Alamos, the Bakken oil field in North Dakota, and Los Angeles. McPherson’s choices cover north, south, east, west, and center and display remarkably diverse drama. Edward McPherson resists the urge to simplify — American life is kind of a mess and he is okay with that. He explores subjects of deep moral significance and complexity from a stance that is honest, without being either holy or snide. Instead, he invites us to think. The book achieves a large scope through specificity. It is at once sobering and awe-inspiring.”

Judge: LaToya Watkins

Owen Egerton
Soft Skull Press

Judge’s Comments: “Oliver Bonds is a good man who loses his son and gives up on everything. Essentially, his is a story about letting go of faith and everything that follows that choice. In Hollow, Owen Egerton masterfully tells a story about life, death, and coping with loss. Through Oliver, Egerton shows us how love can be beautiful and has the power to create, but also how love can be tragic and has the power to break. In this incredibly beautiful and realistic story of human struggle and will to survive, one man is broken and rebuilt by the love that operates from within his very core.”

Judge: Allison Adelle Hedge Coke

Chera Hammons
The Traveler’s Guide to Bomb City
purple flag press

Judge’s Comments: “‘Science tells us dogs // have no sense of now, or tomorrow. // Their ears grow cold as they pad // on wet stones slow-wagging their tails // to the deafening middle // of wherever they are led.’ Each entry in The Traveler’s Guide to Bomb City, by Chera Hammons, delivers us into some scene wrought with an astute take on life on the Southern Plains, narrowing us into empathy, into some depth in the query awakening. This book deserves a close read and we are the better for it being here.”

Award-Winning Authors and Titles, 2013 – 2005

Winners of the 2015 Southwest Book Awards

Winners of the 2013 Southwest Book Awards

Winners of the 2011 Southwest Book Awards

Winners of the 2009 Southwest Book Awards

Winners of the 2007 Southwest Book Awards

Winners of the Writing Contest for Writers Over Sixty Years of Age

Winners of the 2005 PEN Southwest Book Awards


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