Coffee House Press fields two of the five finalists for prestigious PEN/Faulkner fiction prize

These two Coffee House Press titles are up for the award.
These two Coffee House Press titles are up for the award.
courtesy Coffee House Press

Earlier this week, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation announced that, after reviewing more than 350 works, three writer-judges had selected five finalists for the foundation's prestigious fiction prize. Two of those five picks claim local Coffee House Press as their publisher.

"To have even one finalist for the PEN/Faulkner is a remarkable achievement," Coffee House's publisher, Chris Fischbach, wrote us in an email from the AWP conference in Boston. "To have two on the list is something else altogether."

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The two works are Kind One by longtime Coffee House author Laird Hunt, and Hold it 'Til It Hurts by debut novelist T. Geronimo Johnson.

"It's especially satisfying that these two particular authors have been chosen as finalists for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, because they represent two poles on the spectrum of our commitment to authors," says Fischbach. "Hunt is an author we've built a longstanding relationship with over the course of five books and more than a decade. Johnson's debut is an example of our pursuit of previously unheard voices."

The other three finalists are Amelia Gray for Threats, Thomas Mallon for Watergate, and Benjamin Alire Saenz for Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club. Here's a full list of past winners.

This year's winner, who will claim a $15,000 prize, will be announced March 19, and all five writers will be celebrated at an awards dinner at the Folger Shakespeare Library in May.

"We're thrilled for our authors," says Fischbach, "and thrilled for what this says about the status of small presses in America."

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