PEN America Presents Literary Awards to Adjei-Brenyah, Thompson-Spires

Labor News

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah accepts the Jean Stein Award for book of the year at the PEN America 2019 Literary Awards. (Beowulf Sheehan/PEN America)

Reprinted from The Los Angeles Times by 

The nonprofit organization PEN America announced the winners of its annual literary awards Tuesday night, with Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah taking home the prestigious PEN/Jean Stein Award for book of the year for his debut short story collection, “Friday Black.”

Adjei-Brenyah’s competition for the award, which comes with a $75,000 cash prize, included authors Tara Westover, Richard Powers, Ada Limón and José Olivarez.

“In writing this book, I wanted these stories to be out in the world even if my name wasn’t associated with them,” Adjei-Brenyah said, accepting the award. “Maybe someone would feel seen, push a conversation that needed to happen. … If we can imagine a world much worse than ours, we can collectively imagine one that is much better.”

“Friday Black” was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Award for Best First Book. Last week, Universal Pictures announced that it’s planning to adapt the title story of the book into a film, with Adjei-Brenyah writing and executive-producing the movie. …

LA Times 2/27

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Jeff Burman served on the Guild’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 2019. He is now retired. He can be reached at

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