The five finalists for the PEN/Faulkner Award in fiction have been announced by the PEN/Faulkner Foundation in Washington, D.C. The PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction is the United States’ largest peer-juried prize in the field. Established in 1980, the award honors the best works of fiction published by an American citizen in a calendar year. The award will be presented at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington on May 5. One of the five finalists is an African American.
Jesmyn Ward is an associate professor of creative writing at Tulane University in New Orleans. She was nominated for the novel Sing, Unburied Sing (Scribner, 2017), which has already won the National Book Award. The book tells the story of a Jojo, a young African American male whose father is in jail and whose mother is a drug addict.
In 2011, Ward won the National Book Award for her novel Salvage the Bones. The book tells the story of a young African-American girl who lives with her father and three brothers in a small town on the Gulf Coast in Mississippi. The teenager is pregnant and her father is a heavy drinker. The story takes places as Hurricane Katrina is bearing down on the area.
Before joining the faculty at Tulane in 2014, Ward was an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of South Alabama. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University and a master of fine arts degree from the University of Michigan.