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An Open Letter from the Community


Dear Pulitzer Prizes for Literature,


We, the undersigned, are readers and lovers of literature, undocumented writers, first and second generation immigrants, Native and Black writers, past winners and honorees of Pulitzer prizes and major national awards. We are supremely grateful for the decades’ work the Pulitzer has done to uplift books and authors.


From this place of gratitude, and in hopes to speak to your alignment with the past work you have done, we implore you to update your requirements for the Pulitzer Prize to include the work of our peers who through accidents of geography, of violence perpetrated on our lands, and the personal familial reckonings with survival, have come to have or have been born into a mixed or undocumented status.


We were dismayed to learn, through Javier Zamora’s op-ed piece, It’s Time for the Pulitzer Prize for Literature to Accept Noncitizens, that in the categories of Fiction, Biography, Memoir, Poetry, and General Nonfiction, the Pulitzer prize requires authors to be United States citizens.


Along the way of awarding new work, the Pulitzer has a hand, and an opportunity, in creating a new canon. Works that are honored by a prize and nomination are not only honored momentarily, but they become part of our canonical reading.


We, the undersigned, believe that we have a duty to ask what constitutes the literature of a nation, and in asking this question, we believe it is essential to veer away from the definitions the State provides as to what it thinks constitutes U.S. selfhood.


Whether undocumented writers are writing about the border or not, their voices are quintessentially part of what it means to belong and struggle to belong in this and to this nation.


In an increasingly nativistic world, we look to the Pulitzer to continue to guide us, and we hope you will see your way to changing the prize requirements.


We write to you with dismay and with admiration and hope. Thank you for considering and listening.

Recent Signatories

Elmaz Abinader, author of This House My Bones

Faith Adiele, author of Meeting Faith

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of Chain Gang All Stars

Rafael Agustín, author of Illegally Yours

Kaveh Akbar, author of Martyr

Daniel Alarcon, author of At Night We Walk in Circles

Toby Altman, author of Discipline Park

Kali Fajardo-Anstine, author of Woman of Light

Julissa Arce, author of You Sound Like a White Girl

Diana Arterian, author of Playing Monster

Fatimah Asghar, author of When We Were Sisters

Peter Balakian, Pulitzer Prize-winner of Ozone Journal 

Carmiel Banasky, author of The Suicide of Claire Bishop 

Gustavo Barahona-Lopez, author of Foundation

Michael Barron, books editor at The Rumpus

Samiya Bashir, author of Field Theories; Executive Director of Lambda Literary

Dorothy Bell Ferrer, author of El trasero grande de la muerte

Brit Bennett, author of The Vanishing Half

Laura van den Berg, author of I Hold a Wolf by the Ears

Felicia Berliner, author of Shmutz

Erica Berry, author of Wolfish

Katharine Beutner, author of Killingly

Sin Blaché, co-author of Prophet

Daniel Borzutzky, National Book Award-winning poet and author of Written After a Massacre in the Year 2018

Susan Briante, author of Defacing the Monument

Jamel Brinkley, author of Witness

Kate Brody, author of Rabbit Hole

Sarah Browning, author of Killing Summer

Rachel Ida Buff, A Is for Asylum Seeker

Lina Maria Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas, author of Don’t Come Back

Alejandra Campoverdi, author of First Gen: A Memoir

Francisco Cantú, author of The Line Becomes a River

Kyle Carrero-Lopez, author of Muscle Memory

Wiley Cash, author of A Land More Kind Than Home

Elaine Castillo, author of America Is Not the Heart and How To Read Now

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, author of Children of the Land

Adrienne Celt, author of End of the World House

May-lee Chai, author of Useful Phrases for Immigrants: Stories

Jessamine Chan, author of The School for Good Mothers

Vanessa Chan, author of The Storm We Made

Jade Chang, author of The Wangs vs. the World

Rita Chang-Eppig, author of Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea

Jean Chen Ho, author of Fiona and Jane

Kirstin Chen, author of Counterfeit

Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

Laura Chow Reece, author of A Small Apocalypse

Darius Christiansen, author of Deep Blood Thang

Gina Chung, author of Sea Change

Nicole Chung, author of A Living Remedy and All You Can Ever Know

Sandra Cisneros, author of Woman Without Shame, House on Mango Street

Bill Clegg

Matthew Cooperman, author of Wonder About the Anonymous Grizzly

Angie Cruz, author of Dominicana

Jessica Cuello, author of Liar

Jill Damatac, author of Dirty Kitchen

Mo Daviau, author of Every Anxious Wave

Robin Davidson, author of Schmetterling

Iris De Anda, author of Roots of Redemption: You Have No Right to Remain Silent

Cesa de Leon, author of Speaking with Grackles by Soapberry Trees

Yohanca Delgado, Stegner Fellow

Mai Der Vang, author of Yellow Rain

Jaquira Díaz, author of Ordinary Girls

Chelsea Dingman, author of Thaw, through a small ghost, I, Divided

Alice Driver, author of The Life and Death of the American Worker

Firoozeh Dumas, author of Funny in Farsi

Justine Dymond, author of The Emigrant & Other Stories

Dave Eggers, author of The Every

Natalie Eilbert, author of Overland

Patricia Engel, author of The Faraway World

Hannah Ensor, author of Love Dream with Television

Jonathan Escoffery, author of If I Survive You

Sarah Rose Etter, author of Ripe

Melissa Febos, author of Girlhood

Julia Fine, author of The Upstairs House and Maddalena and the Dark

Fernando Flores, author of Tears of the Trufflepig

Gwen Florio, author of Silent Hearts

Carolyn Forché, Pulitzer Prize Finalist and author of In the Lateness of the World

Sarah Fox, author of The First Flag

Jamie Ford, author of The Many Daughters of Afong Moy

Temim Fruchter, author of City of Laughter

Aja Gabel, author of The Ensemble

V. Ganeshananthan, author of Brotherless Night

Cristina Garcia, author of Vanishing Maps

Gabriela Garcia, author of Of Women and Salt

Olga Garcia Echeverria, author of Falling Angels: cuentos y poemas

José García Escobar, translator of Javier Zamora’s Solito and Jesse Leon’s I’m Not Broken

Hafizah Geter, author of The Black Period

Jules Gibbs, author of Snakes and Babies

Eve Gleichman, author of The Very Nice Box

Amanda Goldblatt, author of Hard Mouth

Francisco Goldman, Pulitzer-Prize finalist and author of Monkey Boy

Christopher Gonzalez, author of I’m Not Hungry But I Could Eat

Xochitl Gonzalez, Pulitzer-Prize finalist for Commentary

Sara Gourdarzi, author of The Almond in the Apricot

Alina Grabowski, author of Women and Children First

Reyna Grande, author of The Distance Between Us

Garth Greenwell, author of Cleanness

Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize-winner and author of Less Is Lost

Stephanie Elizondo Griest, author of All the Agents and Saints and Mexican Enough

Bronwen Griffiths, author of A Bird in the House

Jean Guerrero, author of Crux

Myriam Gurba, author of Creep and Mean

Shalene Gupta, author of The Cycle

Raquel Gutierrez, author of Brown Neon: Essays

Mohsin Hamid, author of Exit West

Jimin Han, author of The Apology

Sean Hanrahan, author of Ghost Signs

Rachel Heng, author of the Great Reclamation

Fei Hernandez, author of fei criatura

Faylita Hicks, author of HoodWitch

Maria Hinojosa, Pulitzer Prize-winner and author of Once I Was You

Erika Hirugami, author of The Aesthetics of Undocumentedness

Paul Hlava Ceballos, author of Banana [ ]

Brandon Hobson, author of Where the Dead Sit Talking

Cathy Park Hong, author of Minor Feelings

Caitlin Horrocks, author of Life Among the Terranauts and The Vexations

Hugh Howey, author of Wool, Sand, Beacon 23

Rose Himber Howse, Stegner Fellow

Hua Hsu, Pulitzer-Prize winner and author of Stay True

Tung-Hui Hu, author of Greenhouses, Lighthouses

Vanessa Hua, author of Forbidden City

Jessica Hoppe, author of First in the Family

Patrycja Humienik, author of Anchor Baby

Sabrina Imbler, author of How Far the Light Reaches

Susan Ito, author of I Would Meet You Anywhere

Mitchell S. Jackson, Pulitzer-Prize winner in Feature Writing for “Twelve Minutes and a Life.”

Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk

Omotara James, author of Song of My Softening

Tania James, author of Loot

Luther Jett, author of Everyone Disappears, Little Wars, and Watchman, What of the Night?

Yenia Jimenez, author of Visualize What You Read

Meng Jin, author of Self-Portrait with Ghost

Chelsey Johnson, author of Stray City

Mat Johnson, author of Invisible Things, Loving Day, and Pym

Saeed Jones, author of Alive at the End of the World

Janine Joseph, author of Decade of the Brain

Mitchell Kaplan, bookseller, Books & Books

Porochista Khakpour, author of Brown Album

Megan Kamalei Kakimoto, author of Every Drop is a Man’s Nightmare

Rachel Khong, author of Goodbye, Vitamin

Christian Kiefer, author of The Heart of It All

Lydia Kiesling, author of Mobility

Crystal Hana Kim, author of The Stone Home

Nancy Jooyoun Kim, author of What We Kept to Ourselves

Alexandra Kleeman, author of Something New Under the Sun

Lisa Ko, author of Memory Piece and The Leavers

Jamil Jan Kochai, author of The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories

Jean Kwok, author of Searching for Sylvie Lee and Girl in Translation

Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, author of Interrogation Room

O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries

Deborah Landau, author of Soft Targets

Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy

Caroline Leavitt, author of Days of Wonder

Ae Hee Lee, author of Asterism

Raven Leilani, author of Luster

Jesse Leon, author of I’m Not Broken and No estoy roto

Kevin Lichty, author of The Circle That Fits

Jami Nakamura Lin, author of The Night Parade

Katherine Lin, author of You Can’t Stay Here Forever

Joshua Estanislao Lopez, author of We Borrowed Gentleness

Valeria Luiselli, author of Lost Children Archive

Sheryl Luna, author of Magnificent Errors

Christina Lux, author of War Bonds

T Kira Madden, author of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls

Ruth Madievsky, author of All-Night Pharmacy

Karan Mahajan, author of The Association of Small Bombs

Ricardo Maldonado, author of The Life Assignment

Richard Maribella, author of Brother & Sister Enter the Forest

Jessie Ren Marshall

Nate Marshall, author of Finna

Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, author of The Fact of a Body

Askold Melnyczuk, author of What is Told

Melt, author of There Are Trans People Here

Faith Merino, author of Cormorant Lake

Courtney Milan, author of The Duke Who Didn’t

Isle McElroy, author of People Collide

Hannah Michell, author of Excavations

Chanel Miller, author of Know My Name

Dantiel W. Moniz, author of Milk Blood Heat

Naomi Munaweera, author of Island of a Thousand Mirrors

Briana Muñoz, author of Everything Is Returned to the Soil

Sierra Crane Murdoch, Pulitzer-Prize finalist and author of Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country

Matthew Murrey, author of Bulletproof

Marie Myung-Ok Lee, author of The Evening Hero

Sequoia Nagamatsu, author of How High We Go in the Dark

Ann Napolitano, author of Hello Beautiful

Cleyvis Natera, author of Neruda on the Park

Jennifer Nelson, author of Harm Eden

Nadxieli Nieto, Executive Editor and former PEN America awards director

Tomi Obaro, author of Dele Weds Destiny

Achy Obejas, author of Boomerang/Bumerán

Jenny Odell, author of How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy

Alejandra Oliva, author of Rivermouth

Sara Lupita Olivares, author of Migratory Sound

Clara Olivo, author of The Whisper, The Storm and The Light In Between

Tommy Orange, Pulitzer-Prize finalist and author of There There

Ayse Papatya Bucak, author of The Trojan War Museum

Laura Pegram, Kweli Journal

Imani Perry, author of South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation

Carl Phillips, Pulitzer Prize-winner and author of Then the War

Julia Phillips, author of Disappearing Earth

Janel Pineda, author of Lineage of Rain

Lara Prior-Palmer, author of Rough Magic

Ben Prukert, author of The Men Can’t Be Saved

Ayesha Raees, author of Coining a Wishing Tower

Shivanee Ramlochan, author of Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting

Weina Dai Randel, author of Night Angels

Camille Rankine, author of Incorrect Merciful Impulses

Nat Raum, editor in chief, Fifth Wheel Press

Victoria Redel, author of Paradise

Roger Reeves, author of Best Barbarian

José Edmundo Reyes, author of Present Values

Alyssa Reynoso-Morris, author of Plàtanos Are Love

Susan Rich, author of Blue Atlas

Joseph Rios, author of Shadowboxing: poems & impersonations

Lilliam Rivera, author of Never Look Back

Melissa Riveros, author of The Affairs of the Falcons

Jose Antonio Rodriguez, author of House Built on Ashes

Ingrid Rojas Contreras, Pulitzer-Prize finalist and author of The Man Who Could Move Clouds

Joseph Ross, author of Raising King

Enrico Rotelli, author of Nana e io

Lou Rowan, author of A Mystery’s No Problem

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho, author of Barefoot Dogs

Sarah Ruiz-Grossman, author of A Fire So Wild

Janny Sadri-Orafai, author of Malak and Dear Outsiders

Matthew Salesses, author of The Sense of Wonder

Lauren Samblanet, author of like a dog

Erika Sanchez, author of Crying in the Bathroom

Alysia Sawchyn, Editor in Chief at The Rumpus & author of A Fish Growing Lungs

Natalie Scenters-Zapico, author of Lima: Limon

Claire Schwartz, author of Civil Service

Nicole Sealey, author of The Ferguson Report: An Erasure

Diane Seuss, Pulitzer Prize-winner and author of frank: sonnets

Solmaz Sharif, author of Customs

Maya Shanbhag Lang, author of What We Carry

Christina Sharpe, author of Ordinary Notes

Maw Shein Win, author of Storage Unit for the Spirit House

Brandon Shimoda, author of the Grave on the Wall

Leslie Shipman, the Shipman Agency

Michael Shoemaker, author of Leviathan

Grace Shuyi Liew, author of Careen

Matthew Siegel, author of Blood Work

Safiya Sinclair, author of How to Say Babylon

Leora Skolkin-Smith, author of Edges

Danez Smith, author of Don’t Call Us Dead

Maggie Smith, author of You Could Make This Place Beautiful

M. Soehnlein, author of Army of Lovers

Kim Sousa, author of Always a Relic Never a Reliquary

Katherine Standefer, author of Lightning Flowers

Douglas Stuart, author of Shuggie Bain

Pitchaya Sudbanthad, author of Bangkok Wakes to Rain

Eshani Surya, author of the forthcoming Ravishing

Natalia Sylvester, author of Everyone Knows You Go Home

Michael Taeckens, Broadside PR

Morgan Talty, author of Night of the Living Rez

Jenna Tang, translator of Fang Si-Chi’s First Love Paradise

Sarah Thankam Matthews, author of All This Could be Different

Nafissa Thompson-Spires, author of Heads of the Colored People

Jenny Tinghui Zhang, author of Four Treasures of the Sky

Justin Torres, author of We the Animals

Rodrigo Toscano, author of The Charm & the Dread

M. Tran, author of Daughters of the New Year

Tony Tulathimutte, author of Private Citizens

Leticia Urieta, author of Las Criaturas

Preeti Vangani, author of Mother Tongue Apologize

Alejandro Varela, author of The Town of Babylon

Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen

Oscar Villalon, editor of ZYZZYVA

Vanessa Angelica Villareal, author of Beast Meridian

Ursula Villareal-Moura, author of Math for the Self-Crippling

Sarah Viren, author of To Name the Bigger Lie

Qian Julie Wang, author of Beautiful Country: A Memoir of An Undocumented Childhood

Esmé Weijun Wang, author of The Collected Schizophrenias

Jesmyn Ward, author of Sing, Unburied, Sing

William Ward Butler, author of Life History

Noah Warren, author of The Complete Stories

Bryan Washington, author of Family Meal

Jemimah Wei, Stegner Fellow

Michael Welch, Editor-in-Chief of Chicago Review of Books

Naomi Williams, author of Landfalls

Colin Winette, author of Users

Jane Wong, author of Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City

Iris Yamashita, author of City Under One Roof

Lisa Yee, author of Maizy Chen’s Last Chance

Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Chronology of Water, Thrust, Verge

Javier Zamora, author of Solito: A Memoir

Matthew Zapruder, author of Story of a Poem

Leni Zumas, author of Red Clocks

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