Miami professor wins PEN literary award


By Caroline Haubenstricker

Daisy Hernández, associate professor of English at Miami, received the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award during the PEN America Literary Awards ceremony Feb. 28 for her book, the “The Kissing Bug: A True Story of a Family, an Insect, and the Nation’s Neglect of a Deadly Disease.”  

Her book centers on Chagas disease, a lethal illness caused by triatomine bugs, known as “kissing bugs.” The bugs carry the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite, transmitted to animals and people found only in the Americas, according to the CDC’s website. While blending science and sociology, the book discusses race, sexuality, health disparities, and generational divides.

The PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, founded in 2016, recognizes a book-length work of any genre for its originality, merit and impact, which has broken new ground by reshaping the boundaries of its form and signaling strong potential for lasting influence. The winner receives $75,00 in prize money. 

Hernández said she hopes her book highlights disparities of global healthcare systems that neglect poor communities and rural areas, according to a Miami press release.