Toward the end of his life, Robert wanted to recognize the influence that northern Michigan had on the author Ernest Hemingway as a young man. The Hemingway family summered on Walloon Lake and after Ernest returned from WWI he stayed in Petoskey for a winter to recover. Robert loved the connection of Hemingway to his hometown. He also loved that Hemingway wrote his Nick Adams stories about places he knew personally.
Robert asked his daughter Fernanda to create a prize to encourage budding short story authors. In 2016 the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Authors was created. The Prize recognizes 12 emerging fiction writers each year for their debut short story published in a literary magazine or cultural website and aims to support the launch of their careers as fiction writers. The Dau Prize seeks to encourage and promote new writers and to increase publication of the written word. In addition to the prize each year’s winners are published in Catapult Publishings Best Debut Short Stories: the PEN America Dau Prize.
Since its inception there have been a total of 48 PEN/Dau Prize winners. Of this group of talented writers several since have published novels and other short works of fiction. Each of the 12 winning writers receives a cash prize of $2,000. The independent book publisher Catapult will publish the 12 winning stories in an annual anthology entitled The PEN America Best Debut Short Stories.
Awardees also are given the opportunity to attend the PEN Awards in New York City, the anthology book launch in the fall, as well as a chance to attend and participate in the Michigan Hemingway Society's fall meeting in Petoskey, Michigan. While in Petoskey, the writers present excerpts from their stories and are given the opportunity to sit on a panel and discuss the craft of writing.
If you are interested in having your work of short fiction considered for the PEN/Dau Prize please see the eligibility and submission guidelines as set for by PEN America.