Read full transcripts of the gala remarks here.

Khadija Ismayilova

2015 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award

Khadija Ismayilova is an Azerbaijani journalist knownfor her hard-hitting investigative reporting on official corruption. After a years-long government campaign against her, Khadija was arrested on December 5, 2014 and remains in pre-trial detention.

@Olympics: Demand #Azerbaijan release @Khadija0576 & other writers before @BakuGames2015. #realbaku2015

Tom Stoppard

2015 PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award

Just as he has pushed the boundaries of drama with his imagery and wordplay, Tom Stoppard has taken an equally energetic stance towards guarding the right to free expression, wherever and whenever it is challenged.

I stand with @PENAmerican, Tom Stoppard, & @BFreeTheatre in demanding #FreeExpression for Belarus. #PENgala

Charlie Hebdo

2015 PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award

The day after the January 7 attack that claimed twelve lives, the surviving staff of Charlie Hebdo magazine vowed to continue publication, releasing their next edition under the mantra “All is Forgiven.”

No act of expression, no matter how provocative or offensive, can justify violence. #JeSuisCharlie #PENgala

Markus Dohle

2015 PEN Publisher Honoree

Markus Dohle’s passionate leadership has helped galvanize an industry amid transformation, bringing energy and vision that are fueling reinvention in a dynamic and fertile new era of literary creativity.



On Tuesday, May 5, 2015, New York’s literati will gather en masse in defense of freedom of expression at the annual PEN American Center Literary Gala at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

In a year bloodied by violent attacks on expression, PEN will honor some of free speech’s most fearless defenders.

The highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award to jailed Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova. Khadija Ismayilova is an award-winning reporter for whose hard-hitting investigations have revealed corruption at the highest levels of power in Azerbaijan, including the country’s president, Ilham Aliyev. After years of escalating harassment by government and pro-government forces, she was arrested on December 5, 2014, on trumped-up charges of inciting a former colleague to suicide. Presented annually at the gala, this honor shines the global spotlight on an imprisoned writer persecuted for exercising her right to free expression. Since its inception in 1987, thirty-five of the 39 writers selected have been freed due in part to the attention and pressure generated by the Award.

Esteemed playwright Sir Tom Stoppard will accept the PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award for his extraordinary career as a dramatist and his abiding commitment to the defense of creative freedom worldwide. Paris-based satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo will be honored with the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award, to be received by staff member Jean-Baptiste Thoret, who arrived to work late on January 7, barely escaping the attack that killed eight of his co-workers and four others.

The Gala will also salute Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle for his leadership role in the global literary community.

The 2015 PEN Literary Gala coincides with the organization’s eleventh annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, which will be held from May 4-10 and will feature Stoppard in an opening night performance.


Founded in 1922, PEN American Center is a community of 4,000 U.S. writers working to bring down barriers to free expression worldwide. Its distinguished members carry on the achievements in literature and advancement of human rights of such past members as Langston Hughes, Arthur Miller, and Susan Sontag. To learn more, visit

Sarah Edkins, Communications Manager: [email protected], +1 646-779-4830


Charlie Hebdo Magazine to Receive PEN Award (Associated Press)
Charlie Hebdo to receive US literary award in May (Agence France Presse)
Charlie Hebdo To Receive PEN Award in May (Artnet)
Tom Stoppard Cited by PEN for “Defense of Creative Freedom”(Playbill)