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2015 Pen Literary Award Winners

The PEN Literary Awards is the most comprehensive awards program in the country, offering over $100,000 each year to fiction writers, poets, translators, children’s authors, biographers, nonfiction writers, and playwrights.
Each prize is conferred by a panel of PEN members who bring to the task a familiarity with the solitary task of creating great literature.

PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
War of the Whales: a true story by Joshua Howitz

“Six years in the making, War of the Whales is the “gripping detective tale” (Publishers Weekly) of a crusading attorney, Joel Reynolds, who stumbles on one of the US Navy’s best-kept secrets: a submarine detection system that floods entire ocean basins with high-intensity sound—and drives whales onto beaches. As Joel Reynolds launches a legal fight to expose and challenge the Navy program, marine biologist Ken Balcomb witnesses a mysterious mass stranding of whales near his research station in the Bahamas. Investigating this calamity, Balcomb is forced to choose between his conscience and an oath of secrecy he swore to the Navy in his youth.” publisher

PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction
Five Days at Memorial: life and death in a storm ravaged hospital by Sheri Fink

“Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink’s landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina – and her suspenseful portrayal of the quest for truth and justice. In the tradition of the best investigative journalism, physician and reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs 5 days at Memorial Medical Center and draws the reader into the lives of those who struggled mightily to survive and to maintain life amid chaos. ” publisher

Pen/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography
The Queen’s Bed: an intimate history of Elizabeth’s court by Anna Whitelock

“Queen Elizabeth I acceded to the throne in 1558, restoring the Protestant faith to England. At the heart of the new queen’s court lay her bedchamber, closely guarded by the favored women who helped her dress, looked after her jewels, and shared her bed. Elizabeth’s private life was of public concern. Her bedfellows were witnesses to the face and body beneath the makeup and raiment, as well as to rumored dalliances with such figures as Earl Robert Dudley. Their presence was for security as well as propriety, as the kingdom was haunted by fears of assassination plots and other Catholic stratagems. ” publisher

PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing
Boy on Ice: the life and death of Derek Boogaard by John Branch

“Boy on Ice is New York Times reporter John Branch’s chronicle of Boogaard’s tragic life and death. A human story in the tradition of Friday Night Lights and The Blind Side, it’s a book that raises deep and disturbing questions about the systemic brutality of contact sports-from peewees to professionals-and damage that reaches far beyond the game. Derek Boogaard was a mountain of a man who lived an almost mythic sports story: from pond-hockey on the prairies of Saskatchewan to a first NHL contract in Minnesota, to the storied New York Rangers as the most-feared enforcer in the league. A gentle young man, he was a brutal fighter on ice skates, capable of delivering career-ending punches and intimidating entire teams. But at twenty-eight, his death from an overdose of painkillers in the wake of a series of concussions helped shatter the silence about violence in professional sports.” publisher

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