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Wyoming Author Wins Prestigious PEN Literary Award

A Wyoming author is among this year’s winners of the prestigious PEN Literary Awards, announced this morning in New York.

Nina McConigley is a lecturer in the University of Wyoming’s English Department. Her collection of short stories, ‘Cowboys and East Indians,’ is one of two winners of the PEN Open Book Award. The $5,000 award is for a book-length work by an author of color. McConigley’s father is Irish; her mother is from India. 'Cowboys and East Indians' draws on her multicultural upbringing in Wyoming.

McConigley is currently on vacation with "a dodgy internet connection."

"So when I got the email – it wasn’t fully downloaded. I couldn’t see the message, but the subject line was “Good News” – so I assumed I might have won. But it took a few hours before I could read the whole thing. Then I cried," wrote McConigley in an email.

She says the PEN Award is a major validation for her as a writer. "I am telling a kind of story that maybe not everyone wants to read. But as a Wyoming writer, writing about Wyoming, writing about a part of Wyoming that many people don’t know about – it is so satisfying to know there is an audience."

Winners will be honored at the Literary Awards Ceremony in September in New York City. The PEN American Center—which administers the awards—is a branch of PEN International, a human rights and literary organization devoted to defending free expression.

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