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 The prize is awarded to a previously unpublished novel representing excellence in this genre.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:

Lisa Ko, author of The Leavers (2016)

 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)