The PEN/Faulkner Foundation has announced the longlist for the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. It includes Yaa Gyasi’s Transcendent Kingdom, her follow-up novel to the bestselling Homegoing.
The award was created to recognise the best works of fiction produced by living American citizens in a given year. The winner receives $15,000 while runners-up receive $5,000 each.
Following Gifty, a 28 -year old PhD candidate in neuroscience at Stanford University, the novel is an exploration of big themes: religion, addiction, science, love, grief, depression. Gifty’s father has abandoned her, her mother suffers from depression, triggered by the death of her son, Gifty’s brother, Nana. The novel has also been longlisted for the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and the 2020 Prix Médicis étranger.
This year, the ten titles on the longlist were selected from a pool of 419 novels and story collections, nominated by 170 publishing houses.
There are two debut novelists on the list: K-Ming Chang for Bestiary and Brian Castleberry for Nine Shiny Objects. There are three collections of stories: Danielle Evans’ The Office of Historical Corrections, Deesha Philyaw’s The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, and Steve Wiegenstein’s Scattered Lights. Yaa Gyasi’s Transcendent Kingdom is one of the other five novels.
The Cameroonian-American novelist Imbolo Mbue won the prize in 2017 for Behold the Dreamers. Other previous winners include James Salter, Philip Roth, and Deborah Eisenberg.
For the 2021 prize, five finalists will be announced in early March, and the winner in April.
Open Country Mag congratulates Yaa Gyasi and other longlisted writers.