Pen/Hemingway Recognition

Every writer has a dream award, the one that she knows would change life forever. Pen/Hemingway, an award for first fiction book, has always been one of those for me. It’s the kind of award that you can get only when you are starting out. Only first-time fiction writers are eligible. It’s a fairy tale award. A Cinderella story award. A happy ending for a first book, and a beginning for just one lucky writer a year–plus a powerful nod to finalists and honorable mentions.

Founded by Mary Hemingway in 1976 to honor her husband Ernest, and to recognize “distinguished first books of fiction,” the award is administered by the wonderful PEN organization for writers.

Some of my favorite writers have won this award, here are just a few:

1981 – Joan Silber for Household Words

1985 – Josephine Humphreys for Dreams of Sleep

1993 – Edward P. Jones for Lost in the City

The recognition that comes from this award starts careers, lets the world know you are writing something worth reading. Plus, how cool is it to have your name in the same paragraph with Hemingway’s?

Yesterday afternoon I got the confirmation that Accidental Birds of the Carolinas was selected for Honorable Mention for the Pen/Hemingway award.

I am still so excited that I’m not quite breathing right. Today I celebrate by calling friends, doing a little yoga, and taking the dog for a very long walk, a glass of wine with a friend. Tomorrow, it’s back to writing the next thing. But ahh, the sweetness will linger through my days. Thank you, Mr. Hemingway, and your lovely wife Mary.

To read about this year’s winner, finalists, and honorable mentions, see


3 thoughts on “Pen/Hemingway Recognition

  • at 2:19 am

    Congratulations, Marjorie! I’m delighted that you’ve received this affirmation of your talents. I enjoyed hearing your interview today on “The State of Things” on NPR, also.

  • at 7:38 pm

    Congratulations, Marjorie. I am so proud.
    Best wishes, enjoy this moment to the fullest, savor it.
    Emily Herring Wilson

    • at 9:16 pm

      Emily! I have not had the chance to tell everyone, but I thought of you. So sweet to hear from friends at this moment, and especially from you who have been a fierce defender of my creative life since the beginning of Virginia Dare. I remember you telling me to “do it my way” with Virginia Dare–even though it was a bit strange. I followed that lesson with this book and I guess it is paying off. Who puts an Eno Indian in a contemporary collection? But I could see it was important, so I had to do it. I am quite stunned by this news! I am looking forward to meeting that wild Boston crowd. Will report back!

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