One of the literary world's favorite fiction prizes, the PEN/Faulkner award, announced its 2013 finalists Wednesday. In its 33rd year, the contenders come from publishers large and small.
The finalists are Amelia Gray for "Threats," published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux; "Kind One" by Laird Hunt and T. Geronimo Johnson's "Hold It 'Til It Hurts," both published by Coffee House Press; "Watergate" by Thomas Mallon, published by Pantheon; and Benjamin Alire Sáenz for "Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club," published by Cinco Puntos Press.
Cinco Puntos is a small, 28-year-old independent publishing house in El Paso, Texas; Farrar, Straus and Giroux is one of New York's best-known literary publishers. Pantheon is also based in New York -- it's an imprint of Knopf -- while Coffee House Press is a large nonprofit press based in Minneapolis. That Coffee House managed to land two books on the lists of finalists is impressive.
The winner of the PEN/Faulkner award will receive $15,000; the four remaining finalists get $5,000 each. The award is presented in a ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., on May 4.
Three judges -- authors Walter Kirn, Nelly Rosario and A.J. Verdelle -- read 350 books published in the year 2012, which had been submitted by 130 publishing houses.
Previous winners of the PEN/Faulkner Award include Richard Ford's "Independence Day," Sherman Alexie's "War Dances," "World's End" by T.C. Boyle and "The Buddha in the Attic" by Julie Otsuka.