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Meet the 2020 Literary Awards Judges

PEN America’s 2020 Literary Awards judges join a long tradition of esteemed writers and PEN America members committed to recognizing their contemporaries, from promising debut writers to those who have had a continuous, lasting impact on literary excellence. Our judges hail from across America and a wide range of disciplines, backgrounds, and aesthetic lineages, and are award-winning authors in their own right. Each year, our judges are selected with the help of the PEN America Literary Awards Committee.

We are honored to introduce you to the 2020 PEN America Literary Awards judges.



PEN/Jean Stein Book Award ($75,000)

Marilyn Chin

MARILYN CHIN is an award-winning poet and writer. She is presently celebrating her latest book, A Portrait of the Self as Nation: New and Selected Poems (W. W. Norton & Company, 2018). Chin’s other books of poems include Hard Love Province: Poems (Yale University Press, 2017) and Dwarf Bamboo (Greenfield Review Press, 1987). She has won numerous awards, including the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Radcliffe Institute Fellowship at Harvard, the PEN/Josephine Miles Award, and a Fulbright Fellowship to Taiwan. She is Professor Emerita of San Diego State University and serves as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Garth Greenwell

GARTH GREENWELL is the author of What Belongs to You (Picador, 2016), which won the British Book Award for Debut of the Year, was longlisted for the National Book Award, and was a finalist for several other awards, including the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. A new book of fiction, Cleanness, is forthcoming from FSG in 2020.

Rebecca Makkai

REBECCA MAKKAI is the author of The Great Believers (Viking, 2018), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, one of the New York Times‘ Top Ten Books for 2018, winner of the LA Times Book Prize, the ALA Carnegie Medal, and others. She also wrote The Borrower (Penguin Books, 2012), The Hundred-Year House (Penguin Books, 2015), and the collection Music for Wartime (Penguin Books, 2016). Four stories from her collection appeared in The Best American Short Stories. Makkai is on the MFA faculties of Sierra Nevada College and Northwestern University, and she is the Artistic Director of StoryStudio Chicago.

MICHAEL SCHAUB is a book critic and regular contributor to NPR, the Los Angeles Times, and Kirkus Reviews. His book criticism has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, and The Guardian, among other publications. He is a member of the board of directors of the National Book Critics Circle and lives in Austin, Texas.

William Vollmann

WILLIAM T. VOLLMANN is the author of 10 novels, including Europe Central (Penguin Books, 2005), winner of the National Book Award. He has also written four collections of stories, including The Atlas (Penguin Books, 1997), which won the PEN Center USA West Award for Fiction; a memoir; and eight works of nonfiction, including two finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Rising Up and Rising Down (Ecco, 2005) and Imperial (Penguin Books, 2010). He is the recipient of a Whiting Award and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in California.


LILA AZAM ZANGANEH published her first book, The Enchanter: Nabokov and Happiness (W. W. Norton & Company, 2011) to great critical acclaim. Born in Paris to Iranian parents, she is currently a director on the Board of Trustees for the Vladimir Nabokov Literary Foundation and a member of the Advisory Board of Libraries Without Borders. Since September 2015, she has been an ambassador for Narrative4, a global story-exchange organization that promotes radical empathy. In 2011, she was the recipient of the Center for Fiction’s annual Roger Shattuck Prize for Criticism. Azam Zanganeh writes and lives between New York and London.

George Elliott Clarke

GEORGE ELLIOTT CLARKE is the fourth Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012-15) and the seventh Parliamentary/Canadian Poet Laureate (2016-17). Clarke is a revered artist in song, drama, fiction, screenplay, essays, and poetry. Born in Windsor, Nova Scotia in 1960, Clarke was educated at the University of Waterloo, Dalhousie University, and Queen’s University. Clarke is a pioneering scholar of African-Canadian literature and a professor of English at the University of Toronto. His many recognitions include the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellows Prize, the Governor General’s Award for Poetry, the National Magazine Gold Award for Poetry, and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Achievement Award.  

Hari Kunzru

HARI KUNZRU is the author of five novels, most recently White Tears (Knopf, 2017), a finalist for the PEN Jean Stein Award. His work has been translated into over twenty languages. His short stories and essays have appeared in publications including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Guardian, New York Review of Books, Granta, October and Frieze. He has received fellowships from The Royal Society of Literature, the New York Public Library, The Guggenheim Foundation, and the American Academy in Berlin. He teaches in the Creative Writing program at New York University. 

Viet Thanh Nguyen

VIET THANH NGUYEN’S novel The Sympathizer (Grove Press, 2016) is a New York Times best seller and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His other books are The Refugees (Grove Press, 2017), Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (Harvard University Press, 2016) and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America (Oxford University Press, 2002). He is a Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity, and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California. His most recent publication is Chicken of the Sea (McSweeny’s, 2019), a children’s book written in collaboration with his six-year-old son, Ellison.

Alexis Okeowo

ALEXIS OKEOWO is the author of A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa (Hachette Books, 2017), which received the 2018 PEN Open Book Award. They are a staff writer at The New Yorker. Their work has been anthologized in The Best American Sports Writing (Best American Paper, 2017) and The Best American Travel Writing (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017), and they have received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Russell Sage Foundation, International Women’s Media Foundation, New America, and Alicia Patterson Foundation. They are the 2019 PEN/Civitella Ranieri Foundation Writing Fellow.


Ali Eteraz

ALI ETERAZ is the author of the novel Native Believer (Akashic Books, 2016), which was shortlisted for the Saroyan Prize, and is a New York Times Editors’ Choice. His stories have appeared in Chicago Quarterly Review, storySouth, and Adirondack Review, among others. His critically acclaimed coming-of-age memoir, Children of Dust (HarperOne, 2006), was featured on NPR and PBS, and was a New Statesman Book of the Year. He lives in California.

Marie Myung-Ok Lee

MARIE MYUNG-OK LEE’S novel, The Evening Hero, is forthcoming with Simon & Schuster, and her young adult novel, Finding My Voice, is being reissued with Soho Press. She has been published in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Slate, Salon, Guernica, The Paris Review, The Guardian, the New York Times Book Review, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. Lee is a founder of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and teaches fiction at Columbia, where she is a Writer-in-Residence. She is one of the few journalists who has been granted a visa to visit North Korea. 

Dawn Lundy Martin

DAWN LUNDY MARTIN is the author of four books of poems: A Gathering of Matter / A Matter of Gathering (University of Georgia Press, 2007), Discipline (Nightboat Books, 2011), Life in a Box is a Pretty Life (Nightboat Books, 2015), and Good Stock Strange Blood (Coffee House Press, 2017), which won the 2019 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for Poetry. Her nonfiction can be found in The New Yorker, Harper’s, n+1, The Believer, and Best American Essays (Mariner Books, 2019). Martin teaches English at the University of Pittsburgh and is Director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics. 

Alex Marzano Lesnevich

ALEX MARZANO-LESNEVICH is the author of The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir (Flatiron Books, 2017), which received a Lambda Literary Award, the Chautauqua Prize, the Grand Prix des Lectrices de Elle, and the Prix France Inter-JDD. The recipient of fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, MacDowell, Yaddo, and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, as well as a Rona Jaffe Award, Marzano-Lesnevich has written for The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The Boston Globe, Oxford American, and Harper’s. They are an assistant professor at Bowdoin College and live in Portland, Maine.

Camille Rankine

CAMILLE RANKINE is the author of Incorrect Merciful Impulses (Copper Canyon Press, 2016) and Slow Dance with Trip Wire (Poetry Society of America, 2010), which was selected by Cornelius Eady for the Poetry Society of America’s 2010 New York Chapbook Fellowship. She is the recipient of a 2010 Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize, as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the MacDowell Colony. She serves as president of the board of The Poetry Project, co-chairs the Brooklyn Book Festival Poetry Committee, and is a visiting assistant professor at The New School.

Hector Tobar

HÉCTOR TOBAR is the Los Angeles-born author of five books, including the novels The Tattooed Soldier (Penguin Books, 2000), The Barbarian Nurseries (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011), and the forthcoming The Last Great Road Bum (MCD, 2020). His nonfiction Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of Thirty-Three Men Buried in a Chilean Mine and the Miracle that Set Them Free (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014), was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and a New York Times bestseller. Currently, he is an associate professor of Chicano/Latino Studies and English at the University of California, Irvine.




R. O. Kwon

R.O. KWON’S bestselling first novel, The Incendiaries (Riverhead Books, 2018), was named a best book of the year by over 40 publications, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Award for Best First Book, Los Angeles Times First Book Prize, and Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Fiction Prize, and is being translated into six languages. Kwon’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Paris Review, Buzzfeed, NPR, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Yaddo, MacDowell, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.

Terese Mailhot

TERESE MARIE MAILHOT is from Seabird Island Band. Her work has appeared in Guernica, Pacific Standard, Granta, Mother Jones, Medium, Best American Essays 2019, and elsewhere. She is the New York Times bestselling author of Heart Berries: A Memoir (Counterpoint, 2018) and the recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award. She teaches creative writing at Purdue University. 

David Ulin

DAVID L. ULIN is the author or editor of 10 books, including Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles (University of California Press, 2015), shortlisted for the 2016 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay; The Lost Art of Reading: Books and Resistance in a Troubled Time (Sasquatch Books, 2018); and Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology (Library of America, 2002), which won a California Book Award. He has received fellowships from The Guggenheim Foundation, The Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, and others. He teaches at the University of Southern California.


Aimee Bender

AIMEE BENDER is the author of five books, including The Girl in the Flammable Skirt (Anchor, 1999), a New York Times Notable Book, and the bestseller The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (Anchor, 2011), which won the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association award. Her fiction has been widely anthologized, as well as translated into 16 languages. She teaches creative writing at the University of Southern California. 

Jamel Brinkley

JAMEL BRINKLEY is the author of A Lucky Man (Graywolf Press, 2018), a finalist for the National Book Award, the Story Prize, the John Leonard Prize, and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, and winner of the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. His fiction has appeared in A Public Space, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and Gulf Coast, and has been chosen twice for The Best American Short Stories. He has been awarded fellowships from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and Stanford University.

SAMANTHA HUNT is the author of the collection The Dark Dark: Stories (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017), and three novels, Mr. Splitfoot (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016), The Invention of Everything Else (Mariner Books, 2009), and The Seas (Tin House Books, 2018). Hunt is the recipient of a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship, the St. Francis College Literary Prize, the Bard Fiction Prize, and the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Prize. She was a finalist for the Orange Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. She lives in upstate New York and teaches at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

Randa Jarrar

RANDA JARRAR is the author of A Map of Home (Other Press, 2008); Him, Me, Muhammad Ali (Sarabande Books, 2016); and the forthcoming Love Is An Ex-Country (Catapult, 2021). Randa Jarrar’s work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Buzzfeed, The Utne Reader, Salon, The Offing, Guernica, The Rumpus, and others. She is a professor of English and Creative Writing, and the executive director of the literary non-profit, Radius of Arab American Writers. 

ELISSA SCHAPPELL is the author of Use Me (Harper Perennial, 2001), a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel, a New York Times “Notable Book” and a Los Angeles Times “Best Book of the Year;” and Blueprints For Building Better Girls (Simon & Schuster, 2012), selected as a “Best Book of the Year” by The San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, and The Wall Street Journal. She’s a Contributing Editor at Vanity Fair, former Senior Editor of The Paris Review, and a Founding-Editor and Editor-at-Large of Tin House. She teaches in the Columbia MFA writing program, and Queens’ low-residency MFA.


Tracy O'Neil

TRACY O’NEILL is the author of The Hopeful (Ig Publishing, 2015), one of Electric Literature‘s Best Novels of 2015, and the forthcoming Quotients (Soho Press, 2020). In 2015, she was named a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree, and in 2012 she was a Center for Fiction Fellow. She holds an MFA in Fiction from the City College of New York, as well as an MA and MPhil in Communications from Columbia University. Her writing has appeared in Granta, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, the New Yorker, LitHub, BOMB, Guernica, The Guardian, and elsewhere. 

Nafissa Thompson-Spires

NAFISSA THOMPSON-SPIRES earned a PhD in English from Vanderbilt University and an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Illinois. Her first book, Heads of the Colored People (37 Ink, 2018), was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize, and won the PEN Open Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, and an Audie Award. She is the recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Paris Review Daily, Dissent, Buzzfeed Books, and The White Review. She works as an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Cornell University.  

Deb Olin Unferth

DEB OLIN UNFERTH is the author of six books, including the forthcoming novel Barn 8 (Graywolf, 2020). Her work has appeared in Harper’s, The Paris Review, Granta, Vice, Tin House, The New York Times, and McSweeney’s. She has received a Guggenheim fellowship, a Creative Capital grant, four Pushcart Prizes, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. An associate professor at the University of Texas in Austin, she also runs the Pen City Writers, a creative writing program at a penitentiary in southern Texas.




Cornelius Eady

CORNELIUS EADY is the author of several books of poetry, including the critically acclaimed Hardheaded Weather (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2008), which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award; Victims of the Latest Dance Craze (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1997), winner of the 1985 Lamont Prize; The Gathering of My Name (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1991), which was nominated for the 1992 Pulitzer Prize; and his most recent collection, The War Against the Obvious (Jacar Press, 2018). With poet Toi Derricotte, Eady is cofounder of Cave Canem. He is the recipient of a National Endowments for the Arts Fellowship in Literature and other esteemed fellowships. 

Linda Gregerson

LINDA GREGERSON has published six collections of poetry, including Prodigal: New and Selected Poems (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015). Winner of the 2003 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, she has been a finalist for the National Book Award, the Lenore Marshall Prize, and the Poets Prize, and has received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Poetry Society of America, the Modern Poetry Association, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Gregerson is Distinguished University Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Michigan, and is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Deborah Paredez

DEBORAH PAREDEZ is a poet and performance scholar. She is the author of the critical study, Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory (Duke, 2009), and of the poetry volumes, This Side of Skin (Wings Press 2002), and the forthcoming Year of the Dog (BOA Editions, 2020). Her poetry and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, Boston Review, Poetry, Poet Lore, and elsewhere. She is a professor of creative writing and ethnic studies at Columbia University and cofounder of CantoMundo, a national organization for Latinx poets.

Monica Youn

MONICA YOUN is the author of Blackacre (Graywolf Press, 2016), which won the William Carlos Williams Award of the Poetry Society of America. It was also shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Kingsley Tufts Award, longlisted for the National Book Award, and named one of the best poetry books of 2016 by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and BuzzFeed. Her previous book Ignatz (Four Way Books, 2010) was a finalist for the National Book Award. A 2018 Guggenheim Fellow and a member of the Racial Imaginary Institute, she teaches at Princeton University.




Photo by Beowulf Sheehan

JELANI COBB is the author of The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress (Walker Books, 2010), To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic (NYU Press, 2008), and The Devil and Dave Chappelle and Other Essays (Basic Books, 2007). Dr. Cobb has contributed to The New Yorker since 2012, and became a staff writer in 2015. He joined the Columbia Journalism School faculty in 2016, and has received fellowships from the Fulbright and Ford Foundations. Born and raised in Queens, New York, he is a graduate of Howard University and Rutgers University.

DANIEL MENAKER worked for 26 years as an editor and writer at The New Yorker. He has contributed fiction and humor and essays and journalism to Harper’s, the Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, and many other publications and has twice received the O. Henry Award for short fiction. From 1995 through 2007, he was an editor at Random House, where he was Executive Editor-in-Chief from 2003 through 2007.

Judith Thurman

JUDITH THURMAN is the author of Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller (St. Martin’s Press, 1985), which won the National Book Award for nonfiction; Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette (Ballantine Books, 2000), which won the Los Angeles Times and Salon Book Awards for Biography; and Cleopatra’s Nose (Vintage, 1995), a collection of Thurman’s essays. She is a staff writer for The New Yorker and her honors include the Harold D. Vursell Award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Bard’s Mary McCarthy Award; and the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French Republic. 


DIANE ACKERMAN is the author of 25 works of poetry and nonfiction, including three New York Times bestsellers: The Human Age (W.W. Norton & Company, 2015), which received the Henry David Thoreau Prize; A Natural History of the Senses (Vintage, 1991), which inspired a PBS NOVA series; and The Zookeeper’s Wife (W.W. Norton & Company, 2008), which received the Orion Book Award. Her essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Smithsonian, National Geographic, and elsewhere. She lives in Ithaca, N.Y., and has the unusual distinction of having a molecule named after her—dianeackerone—a sex pheromone in crocodilians. 

Rivka Galchen

RIVKA GALCHEN is an award-winning fiction writer and journalist. She is a staff writer at The New Yorker and has also written for The New York Times Magazine, The London Review of Books, and other publications. She is the author of Atmospheric Disturbances (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008), American Innovations (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014) and Little Labors (New Directions, 2016).

Priyamvada Natarajan

PRIYAMVADA NATARAJAN is the author of the critically acclaimed book Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas that Reveal the Cosmos (Yale University Press, 2017). She is an astrophysicist and professor at Yale University, with a joint appointment in the Astronomy and Physics departments. She has made seminal contributions to our current understanding of the formation and growth of black holes and of the nature of dark matter. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship for Natural Sciences and a Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. 


David Blight

DAVID W. BLIGHT is the Sterling Professor of History and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University. Blight’s most recent work, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (Simon & Schuster, 2018), has garnered nine book awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the Francis Parkman Prize, and the Bancroft Prize. His other books include Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Belknap Press, 2002) and American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era (Belknap Press, 2013). He writes frequently for the popular press, including The Atlantic and The New York Times.

Yunte Huang

YUNTE HUANG is a professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Charlie Chan (W.W. Norton & Company, 2010), which won the Edgar Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Inseparable (Liveright, 2018); and Transpacific Imaginations (Harvard University Press, 2008), among other books. He is a Guggenheim fellow and he has published articles in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Daily Beast, and others.

Miriam Pawel

MIRIAM PAWEL is a journalist and author. Her most recent book, The Browns of California⁠—The Family Dynasty that Transformed a State and Shaped a Nation (Bloomsbury, 2018), won the California Book Award and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in history. The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography (Bloomsbury, 2014) was a National Book Critics Circle finalist and winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Prize. She is currently a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times.

Rebecca Walker

REBECCA WALKER has authored seven bestselling books on subjects ranging from intergenerational feminism and multiracial identity to Black Cool and ambivalent motherhood, and written dozens of articles on topics as varied as Barack Obama’s masculinity, the work of visual artist Ana Mendieta, and the American family’s changing configuration. When she was 21, she cofounded the Third Wave Fund for the empowerment of young women, which continues to make grants to women and transgender youth working for social justice. She has been named by Time Magazine as one of her generation’s most influential leaders. She lives in Los Angeles.

Shawn Wen

SHAWN WEN is a writer, audio producer, and multimedia artist. She is the author of A Twenty Minute Silence Followed By Applause (Sarabande Books, 2017), which won the 2018 Krause Essay Prize from the University of Iowa. Her writing has appeared in n+1, The New Inquiry, Seneca Review, and others. Her video work has screened at the Museum of Modern Art, the Camden International Film Festival, and the Carpenter Center at Harvard University. Her radio work has broadcast on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, This American Life, and more. Born in Beijing, Wen resides in San Francisco.




Sean Gasper Bye

SEAN GASPER BYE is a translator of Polish fiction, reportage and drama. His book-length translations include Watercolours by Lidia Ostałowska (Zubaan Books, 2017) and History of a Disappearance by Filip Springer (Restless Books, 2017). He has published translations, essays, and criticism in The Guardian, Words Without Borders, BOMB, and elsewhere. He is a winner of the 2016 Asymptote Close Approximations Prize, a 2019 National Endowment for the Arts translation fellow, and former Literature and Humanities Curator at the Polish Cultural Institute New York.

Miriam Pawel

JIM HICKS is the editor of The Massachusetts Review and teaches at UMass Amherst. His translations include short pieces by Italo Calvino, Ananda Devi, Juan José Saer, Izet Sarajlić, and longer works by Erri De Luca. His Lessons from Sarajevo: A War Stories Primer was published by UMass Press in 2013. He is co-editor of And There Will Be Singing: An Anthology of International Writing from the Massachusetts Review (UMass Press, 2019). 

GEOFFREY C. HOWES is Professor emeritus of German at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. His published translations include books by Peter Rosei, Robert Musil, Jürg Laederach, and Gabriele Petricek, and fiction, essays and poetry by Clemens Berger, Lilian Faschinger, Doron Rabinovici, Margret Kreidl, Dieter Sperl, Susanne Ayoub, Sabine Gruber, Martin Amanshauser, Robert Menasse, and others. An assistant editor for No Man’s Land, he has regularly contributed essays and translations to Versopolis, coordinated the Max Kade Writer-in-Residence program at Bowling Green, and published widely on Austrian literature. 

Sara Klalili

SARA KHALILI is an editor and translator of contemporary Iranian literature. Her translations include Moon Brow and Censoring an Iranian Love Story by Shahriar Mandanipour (Restless Books, 2018), The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons by Goli Taraghi (W.W. Norton & Company, 2013), The Book of Fate by Parinoush Saniee (House of Anansi Press, 2013), Kissing the Sword by Shahrnush Parsipur (The Feminist Press at CUNY, 2013), and Rituals of Restlessness by Yaghoub Yadali (Phoneme Media, 2016). Her short story translations have appeared in AGNI, The Kenyon Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Epoch, Granta, Words Without Borders, The Literary Review, PEN America, and others. 

Elizabeth Lowe Mccoy

ELIZABETH LOWE translates fiction from Brazilian and Luso-phone Portuguese and Spanish into English. She was recognized by the Brazilian Academy of Letters for her translation of Os Sertões by Euclides da Cunha, Backlands: The Canudos Campaign (Penguin Classics, 2010), the iconic account of a backlands war in the early 20th century. She was one of the first translators of Clarice Lispector into English, and recently of 21st Century Brazilian novelists. Elizabeth teaches in the New York University Master’s in Translation and was the founder of the University of Illinois Center for Translation Studies. Elizabeth is an active member of the PEN Translation Committee.

Jenny McPhee

JENNY MCPHEE is the Director of the Center for Applied Liberal Arts and Clinical Assistant Professor in the Translation Master’s Degree Program at NYU. She is the author of the novels The Center of Things (Ballantine Books, 2002), No Ordinary Matter (Thorndike Press, 2004), and A Man of No Moon (Counterpoint, 2009), and co-authored Girls: Ordinary Girls and Their Extraordinary Pursuits (Random House, 2000). Her translations include books by Primo Levi, Natalia Ginzburg, Anna Maria Ortese, Giacomo Leopardi, and others. She has taught literary translation at Princeton University. In 2003, she cofounded the Bronx Academy of Letters, a NYC public school.


Michael Eskin

MICHAEL ESKIN is an award-winning translator, author, publisher, and cofounder of Upper West Side Philosophers, Inc. – Studio & Publishing. He has taught at Cambridge University and Columbia University, and his translations and criticism have appeared in The New Yorker, World Literature Today, and The Times Literary Supplement. His books include: Philosophical Truffles (Upper West Side Philosophers, 2018); The Wisdom of Parenthood (Upper West Side Philosophers, 2013); Yoga for the Mind: A New Ethic for Thinking and Being (Upper West Side Philosophers, 2013); Poetic Affairs: Celan, Grünbein, Brodsky (Stanford University Press, 2008); and Ethics and Dialogue (Oxford University Press, 2000). 

Forrest Gander

Photo by Nina Subin

FORREST GANDER, a writer and translator, was born in the Mojave Desert, grew up in Virginia, and taught for many years at Brown University. Among Gander’s books are Be With (New Directions, 2018), winner of the Pulitzer Prize; the novel The Trace (New Directions, 2015); and Eiko & Koma (New Directions, 2013). Gander’s recent translations include Alice Iris Red Horse: Poems by Gozo Yoshimasu (New Directions, 2016), Then Come Back: the Lost Neruda Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2016), Pinholes in the Night: Essential Poems from Latin America (Copper Canyon Press, 2014), and, with Patricio Ferrari, The Galloping Hour: French Poems of Alejandra Pizarnik (New Directions, 2018).  

Pierre Joris

PIERRE JORIS has moved between Europe, the United States, and North Africa for some 50 years, publishing many books of poetry, essays, translations, and anthologies. His most recent works are Arabia (not so) Deserta (Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2019), and Adonis & Pierre Joris, Conversations in the Pyrenees (Contra Mundum Press, 2018). His earlier books include: The Book of U, The Agony of I.B., An American Suite, Barzakh: Poems 2000-2012, and Breathturn into Timestead: The Collected Later Poetry of Paul Celan


Margaret Carson

Photo by Beowulf Sheehan

MARGARET CARSON’s translations include Remedios Varo’s Letters, Dreams & Other Writings (Wakefield Press, 2018), and Sergio Chejfec’s Baroni, A Journey (Almost Island Books, 2017), and My Two Worlds (Open Letter, 2011). Other translations have appeared in The Paris Review, BOMB, Words Without Borders, Asymptote, Aufgabe, Review: Literature and Arts of the Américas, [SLUG], and EOAGH. A former co-chair of the PEN Translation Committee, she teaches in the Modern Languages Department at Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY.

Ezra Fitz

EZRA E. FITZ has translated over 20 books, by authors ranging from Emmy-winning journalist Jorge Ramos and Grammy-winning musician Juanes, to novelists Alberto Fuguet and Eloy Urroz. Shorter works have appeared in Words Without Borders, BOMB, A Public Space, Harper’s, and elsewhere. He is currently translating Todos los miedos by Pedro Ángel Palou, and lives in Spring Hill, Tennessee, with his wife and daughter.

Susan Nash

SUSAN SMITH NASH has been involved in translation, critical analysis, and promotion of Latin American poetry and poetics for more than 25 years. She regularly writes on Latin American poetry for World Literature Today and has been involved in translations and anthologies, including the Anthology of Paraguayan Women Writers (Texture Press, 2001), and more recently, the work of individual authors. Nash earned her BS in Geology, and her MA and PhD in English from the University of Oklahoma.

Charlotte Whittle

CHARLOTTE WHITTLE is a literary translator, editor, and writer. Her work has appeared in The Literary Review, Los Angeles Times, Guernica, Electric Literature, BOMB, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. She has translated books such as Jorge Comensal’s The Mutations (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019), Agus Morales’s We Are Not Refugees (Imagine, 2019), and Norah Lange’s People in the Room (And Other Stories, 2018), longlisted for the 2019 Best Translated Book Award and the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation. She lives in New York and is an editor and cartonera workshop facilitator at Cardboard House Press, a bilingual publisher of Latin American and Spanish poetry.




Kirsten Greenidge

KIRSTEN GREENIDGE is a PEN/Laura Pels Theater Award recipient and Obie Award-winning playwright whose work examines the nexus of race, gender, class, and family. Recent work includes Greater Good (2019), Baltimore (2016), Milk Like Sugar (2011), and The Luck of the Irish (2008). She is currently a Mellon Foundation/Howlround Playwright-in-Residence at Company One Theatre and Assistant Professor of Theatre at Boston University’s School of Theatre, where she oversees undergraduate playwriting. She studied U.S. History at Wesleyan University and received her MFA from the University of Iowa, where she attended the Playwrights Workshop.  

Naomi Iizuka

NAOMI IIZUKA’s plays include 36 Views (2002), Polaroid Stories (1997), Anon(ymous) (2007), Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls (2007), Good Kids (2015), and Sleep (2017), in collaboration with RipeTime. Her plays have been produced at BAM’s Next Wave Festival, Berkeley Rep, Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, the Guthrie, the Public Theater, and elsewhere. lizuka was recently the Berlind Playwright-in-Residence at Princeton University. She is a recipient of a PEN/Laura Pels Theater Award, an Alpert Award, a Whiting Writers’ Award, and a Stavis Award from the National Theatre Conference. She heads the MFA Playwriting Program at the University of California, San Diego.

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

BRANDEN JACOBS-JENKINS is a Brooklyn-based playwright. His plays include Everybody (2018), a Pulitzer Prize finalist; War (2016); Gloria (2015), a Pulitzer Prize finalist; Appropriate (2013), Obie Award; An Octoroon (2014), Obie Award; and Neighbors (2010). Recent honors include the Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright, a London Critics’ Circle Award, a MacArthur Fellowship, the Windham-Campbell Prize for Drama, the Benjamin H. Danks Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Steinberg Playwriting Award, and the inaugural Tennessee Williams Award. He teaches at the University of Texas at Austin.