Heidi W. DurrowHeidi W. Durrow

PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction

Fiction has a unique capacity to bring difficult issues to a broad readership on a personal level, creating empathy in a reader's heart for the theoretical stranger. Its capacity for invoking moral and social responsibility is enormous. Throughout history, every movement toward a more peaceful and humane world has begun with those who imagined the possibilities. The Bellwether Prize seeks to support the imagination of humane possibilities.

—Barbara Kingsolver, founder

The PEN/Bellwether Prize's intent is to advocate serious literary fiction that addresses issues of social justice and the impact of culture and politics on human relationships. The prize is awarded to a previously unpublished novel representing excellence in this genre. Learn more about the prize from Algonquin editor Kathy Pories.


Recipients include:

 Ron Childress, author of And West is West (Algonquin 2015)


Good Kings Bad KingsSusan Nussbaum, author of Good Kings Bad Kings (Algonquin Books, 2013)


Running the Rift2010: Naomi Benaron, author of Running the Rift (Algonquin Books, 2012)


The Girl Who Fell from the Sky2008: Heidi Durrow, author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky (Algonquin Books, 2010)


Mudbound2006: Hillary Jordan, author of Mudbound (Algonquin Books, 2008)


Correcting the Landscape2004: Marjorie Kowalski Cole, author of Correcting the Landscape (HarperCollins, 2005)


The Book of Dead Birds2002: Gayle Brandeis, author of The Book of Dead Birds (HarperCollins, 2003)


Kissing The Virgin's Mouth2000: Donna Gershten, author of Kissing The Virgin's Mouth (HarperCollins, 2001)