2016 is the 40th year the PEN/Hemingway Award has been bestowed on an American writer for his or her novel or anthology of short stories. This honoree must not have previously published a full-length work. Past honorees have included Jhumpa Lahiri, Bobbie Ann Mason, Justin Cronin, Ben Fountain, and many others of note. This year’s award winner is Ottessa Moshfegh for her novel entitled Eileen. Ms. Moshfegh‘s works have been in The New Yorker and The Paris Review. She also won the Plimpton Prize from The Paris Review, a Wallace Stegner Fellowship, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The winner wins $25,000, plus $5,000 from the Distinguished Visiting Writers Series at the University of Idaho’s MFA Creative Writing Program. The winner also gets a Residency Fellowship at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming, a retreat for artists and writers.
This award was founded in 1976 by Mary Hemingway, EMH’s wife when he died, as a way to celebrate EMH’s legacy.
Ms. Moshfegh was born in Boston of a Croation mother and Iranian father. She attended Barnard College and received a Bachelor of Arts degree and then graduated from Brown University with a Masters of Fine Arts.
Eileen is a noir book about one winter when the narrator was 24. At the time of the telling, the narrator, Eileen, is now 74. The book was published in 2015 by Penguin Press. From the publisher:
A lonely young woman working in a boys’ prison outside Boston in the early 60s is pulled into a very strange crime, in a mordant, harrowing story of obsession and suspense, by one of the brightest new voices in fiction.