Ends on October 1, 2018

$25.00 USD

The Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, which was established in 2000 by Barbara Kingsolver and is funded entirely by her, was created to promote fiction that addresses issues of social justice and the impact of culture and politics on human relationships. The $25,000 prize is awarded biennially to the author of a previously unpublished novel of high literary caliber that exemplifies the prize’s founding principles. The winner also receives a publishing contract with Algonquin Books. 

Deadline: Submissions will be accepted from June 1, 2018 through October 1, 2018. 


The PEN/Bellwether Prize is awarded to an unpublished novel manuscript by a writer who has had at least four publications (including short stories or essays), and, if the writer has published a book, the book has not sold more than 10,000 copies. The submission must be an original, previously unpublished novel, written by one person, in English, at least 80,000 words in length. Eligible authors must be U.S. citizens. The winning manuscript will be chosen by a panel of three judges: one editor representing the participating publisher, Algonquin, and two distinguished literary authors selected by PEN’s Literary Awards Committee in consultation with Barbara Kingsolver. Manuscripts are judged blind, to avoid any form of bias; the identity of the author of the winning manuscript (and all other submissions) is not known by any judge until after the decision is finalized. Only PEN awards administrators are able to view the submitter's identity.

Each applicant's application must include their resume or CV where you will be able to detail your publishing experience for PEN staff to review for eligibility.

Your submission may not be under consideration by any publisher during the judging period.  You will be notified immediately if your manuscript is no longer under consideration at which time you will should feel free to submit the work elsewhere for consideration.

Application Process:

Complete the online submission form below by October 1, 2018. Please note that the application will require:

  • your typed, double-spaced (11 or 12 point font), and paginated manuscript (at least 80,000 words in length) with title appearing on every page (your name should not appear anywhere on the pages)

  • a one-page synopsis of the work's plot which also explains how it addresses a social issue (please do not include your name on this page)

  • résumé or curriculum vitae (five pages maximum)

  • A $25 entry fee