Jennifer Clement

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Jennifer Clement
Jennifer Clement - Gothenburg book fair 2016.jpg
Clement at the Gothenburg Book Fair in 2016
Born 1960
Greenwich, Connecticut
Occupation Author
Alma mater BA New York University (1981) MFA University of Southern Maine (2014)
Notable works Widow Basquiat, A True Story Based On Lies, Prayers for the Stolen
Notable awards National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Fellowship in Literature, The Canongate Prize

Jennifer Clement is President of PEN International and the first woman to be elected to the office. She is an American-Mexican author. She studied English Literature and Anthropology at New York University and also studied French literature in Paris, France. She has an MFA from the University of Southern Maine. She was President of PEN Mexico from 2009 to 2012, and is the current President of PEN International. Clement’s books have been translated into 24 languages.

Clement is the author three novels: Prayers for the Stolen, A True Story Based on Lies (finalist in the Orange Prize for Fiction) and The Poison That Fascinates. She also wrote the cult classic memoir Widow Basquiat (on the painter Jean Michel Basquiat and NYC in the early 80’s).

Prayers for the Stolen was a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice Book, First Selection for National Reading Group Month's Great Group Reads and appeared internationally on many “Best Books of the Year” lists, including The Irish Times. She is also the author of several books of poetry: The Next Stranger (with an introduction by W.S. Merwin); Newton’s Sailor; Lady of the Broom and Jennifer Clement: New and Selected Poems. Her prize-winning story A Salamander-Child is published as an art book with work by the Mexican painter Gustavo Monroy.

Jennifer Clement was awarded the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) Fellowship for Literature in 2012 for her novel Prayers for the Stolen and was honored with The Sara Curry Humanitarian Award for that work. She is also the recipient of the UK’s Canongate Prize. Clement is a Santa Maddalena Fellow, the MacDowell Colony’s Robert and Stephanie Olmsted Fellow for 2007-08 and, in 2015, was chosen to be a City of Asylum Resident in Pittsburgh, PA. She is a member of Mexico’s prestigious “Sistema Nacional de Creadores.”

Jennifer Clement, along with her sister Barbara Sibley, is the founder and director The San Miguel Poetry Week. Clement lives in Mexico City, Mexico.

Personal life[edit]

Born in 1960 in Greenwich, Connecticut, Clement moved in 1961 with her family to Mexico City, where she later attended Edron Academy. She moved to the United States to finish high school at Cranbrook Kingswood School, before studying English Literature and Anthropology at New York University. She received her MFA from the University of Southern Maine.[1] She is the co-director and founder, with her sister Barbara Sibley, of the San Miguel Poetry Week.

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Guggenheim Fellowship, USA, 2016
  • HIPGiver Honor,(honoring Latinos who have made exceptional contributions to their communities), USA, 2016
  • Hermitage Residency,USA, 2016
  • Grand Prix des Lectrices Lyceenes de ELLE(sponsored by ELLE Magazine, the French Ministry of Education and Maison des écrivains et de la littérature)France, 2015
  • PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Finalist, USA, 2015
  • City of Asylum Resident, Pittsburgh, PA, USA, 2015
  • Community College of Baltimore County, Essex - Prayers for the Stolen:selected novel for the Community Book Connection Program 2015-2106
  • The Irish Times Best Books List 2014
  • The Sara Curry Humanitarian Award, 2014
  • Santa Maddalena Fellowship, Italy, 2014
  • Shortlist Prix Femina, France, 2014
  • Prayers for the Stolen: A New York Times Editor's Choice Book, 2014
  • National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Fellowship in Fiction, 2012
  • President of PEN MEXICO 2009-2012
  • The Sandburg-Auden-Stein Poet-in-Residence, Olivet College, 2011
  • Writer-in-Residence PEN Vlaanderen, Antwerp, Belgium, 2010
  • The Thornton Writer-in-Residence, Lynchburg College, VA, 2009
  • Robert and Stephanie Olmsted Fellow, 2007-2008 (awarded by The MacDowell Colony)
  • MacDowell Colony Fellowship, 2007
  • Residency in Berlin granted by the Goethe Institute and Literarisches Colloquium Berlin, 2004
  • Finalist in the Orange Prize for Fiction, 2002, UK (for A True Story Based on Lies)
  • The Canongate Prize for New Writing 2001, UK (judged by The Herald, The Sunday Herald, Waterstone's, Channel Four BBC, and Canongate Books)
  • The Bookseller's Choice List,2000,UK, (for the memoir Widow Basquiat).
  • U.S.-Mexico Fund for Culture (Conaculta/Fonca/Bancomer/The Rockefeller Foundation) grant in support of The San Miguel Poetry Week.
  • Mexico's “Sistema Nacional de Creadores” grant, FONCA, 2000-2006 and 2012 to present.
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
John Ralston Saul
International President of PEN International
Succeeded by


  1. ^ Hamilton, Geoff; Jones, Brian (2009). "Clement, Jennifer p.68". Encyclopedia of Contemporary Writers and Their Work. Infobase Publishing. Retrieved 7 April 2011.