In an unusual difference from other PEN America Literary Awards, the judging panel of distinguished writers will serve anonymously and will nominate candidates internally and without submissions from the public.
Stein is also sponsoring another new award, the PEN/Jean Stein Grant for Oral History, which will give $10,000 to support "the completion of a literary work of nonfiction that uses oral history to illuminate an event, individual, place, or movement."
Both prizes will be given for the first time next year.
PEN America President Andrew Solomon said, "The PEN/Jean Stein Book Award will focus global attention on remarkable books that propel experimentation, wit, strength, and the expression of wisdom. As an organization that champions literature¹s power to change the world, PEN is especially pleased to recognize work that honors creative ambition and rejoices in imagination. We are immensely grateful to Jean Stein for this opportunity to celebrate books that rethink our culture and humanity."
Stein was editor of Grand Street from 1990 to 2004 and is the author of several books featuring an oral history approach, including Edie: American Girl and American Journey: The Times of Robert Kennedy, which featured her interviews edited by George Plimpton. In 1956, the Paris Review included her interview with William Faulkner. Stein's West of Eden: An American Place, an oral history of five families or individuals who sought their dreams in Los Angeles (including her father, Jules Stein, founder of MCA), was published by Random House earlier this year.