It has been such a big day for book awards news! Earlier today we told you that the longlist for this year’s Orange Prize had been announced. Now we find out that US-born, Nigeria-raised, and Brooklyn-based author Teju Cole has won the $100,000 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for his fantastic novel Open City, which also earned him one of five spots as a National Book Critics Circle finalist — and the winner of that prize is being announced later tonight! Can you imagine if he managed to snag both honors in one day?
But this wouldn’t be a book prize post without a little bit of controversy, right? You see the Hemingway/PEN Award honors outstanding first works of fiction — and technically this is Cole’s second. He previously published a novella called Every Day Is for the Thief back in 2007. According to Karen Wulf, executive director of PEN New England, Cole’s is an exceptional case, so it’s worth bending the rules a bit. “That first book was never published or even carried here in the US, and even in Nigeria it had a limited publication run,” she explains, “so our judges decided to make an exception.” Considering that our own literary editor Emily Temple named Open City one of the best debut novels of 2011, we’re very glad to hear it. [via Arts Beat]