ArtsATL > Books > News: Atlanta poet-essayist Kevin Young wins 2013 PEN Open Book Award for “The Grey Album”

News: Atlanta poet-essayist Kevin Young wins 2013 PEN Open Book Award for “The Grey Album”

Kevin Young
(Photo by Ayca Christman)

Kevin Young, poet and professor at Emory University, has won the 2013 PEN Open Book Award for The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness (Graywolf Press). The prize, awarded by the PEN American Center to an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color, was created to advance diversity in the literary community. The honor comes with a cash award of $5,000.

“Here’s what happens when an acclaimed poet makes his first foray into nonfiction: madcap manifesto and rhapsodic reportage create a formidable blend of scholarship and memoir that tackles cultural and personal history in one breath,” wrote judges Cyrus Cassells, Porochista Khakpour and Tiphanie Yanique. “Young goes far beyond just being a documentarian of American black identity — he shows us how black identity is indispensable to American culture.”

A second winner of the award this year is Gina Apostol for her novel Gun Dealers’ Daughter (W.W. Norton & Co.). Other 2013 PEN Literary Awards recipients include Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Katherine Boo, former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass, playwright Larry Kramer, Mother Jones magazine co-editors Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery, and debut novelist Sergio De La Pava, whose A Naked Singularity was originally self-published before being picked up by the University of Chicago Press.

Young and 15 other winners will be honored at a ceremony October 21 at CUNY Graduate Center in New York.

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