2016 PEN Literary Gala & Free Expression Awards

Monday, May 16, 6:30pm
American Museum of Natural History 
Central Park West at 79th Street, New York City

Watch video and read full transcripts of individual remarks here.

All the seats at this year's PEN Literary Gala have been taken. For more information about the waitlist, please contact pen@eventassociatesinc.com
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We would like to thank all our donors for their generous support.

GALA COMMITTEE CHAIRS

Honorary Chairs
Toni K. Goodale, Annette Tapert Allen

Co-Chairs
Cathy B. Graham, Jay McInerney, Alexandra Munroe

Chairs
Reagan Arthur, Joanna Coles, Aidan Donnelley Rowley, Roxanne Donovan, Patricia Duff, Jeanmarie Fenrich, Sheree Friedman, Margaret Munzer Loeb, Susan Lyne, Carol Mack, Deborah Needleman, Nancy Novogrod, Holly Peterson, Jamie Raab, Megan Tingley, John Troubh, Vicky Ward, Beau Willimon

HONOREES

J. K. ROWLING
2016 PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award 

J.K. Rowling has used her talents and stature as a writer to fight inequality on both a local and global level. Herself the frequent object of censorship in schools and libraries across the globe, as well as online targeting, Rowling has emerged as a vocal proponent of free expression and access to literature and ideas for children, as well as incarcerated people, the learning-disabled, and women and girls worldwide. Watch video and read her full remarks from the ceremony »


 

AHMED NAJI
2016 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award 

Ahmed Naji is the author of three books, a journalist at literary magazine Akhbar al-Adab, and a frequent contributor to other newspapers and websites in which he has criticized official corruption under Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. In February 2016, an Egytian court found him guilty of “violating public modesty” for sexual content in his novel The Use of Life and imposed the maximum sentence of two years in prison. Naji’s case is emblematic of Egypt’s escalating crackdown on free expression that has in the past months expanded beyond press freedom and public demonstrations to also target artistic and cultural spaces, including the arrests of writers and raids of a number of art galleries, theaters, and publishing houses. Watch video and read Mohamed Naji's full remarks from the ceremony »
 

LEE-ANNE WALTERS
DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA

2016 PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award

Lee-Anne Walters and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha were two essential voices in exposing the lead poisoning of Flint’s water supply, calling out grave damage to public health. A mother of four, Walters faced off against local government apathy, taking months of independent research on Flint’s water supply and testing protocols directly to the EPA. Dr. Hanna-Attisha conducted a survey to find that the number of lead poisoning cases had doubled since the city’s move to a new water system, and announced her findings at a press conference during a time when the city and state continued to insist that Flint’s water was safe. Together, the actions of Walters and Hanna-Attisha are a vivid demonstration of the potency of speech in forcing truths out into the open and the centrality of citizens’ expression to a thriving democracy. Watch video and read their full remarks from the ceremony »
 

MICHAEL PIETSCH
2016 Publisher Honoree

Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch, a PEN America Trustee, has worked as an editor to David Foster Wallace, James Patterson, Donna Tartt, and others, championing the power of the unrestrained word.  Pietsch has also contributed vocally to the conversation about publishers' roles in the changing landscape for writers, publishers, booksellers, and readers. Watch video and read his full remarks from the ceremony »

 

 

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On Monday, May 16, New York’s literati will gather at the PEN America Literary Gala at the American Museum of Natural History to honor fierce opponents of censorship around the globe. As violence from Mexico to Russia and China to France this year has forced many to consider compromising democratic values in a shortsighted bargain for security, more and more writers—including honorees J.K. Rowling and Michael Pietsch—have joined PEN in defending freedom of expression and the free flow of ideas.

Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling will receive the 2016 PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award for the extraordinary inspiration her books have provided to generations of readers and writers globally. Since her rise from single mother to literary superstar, J.K. Rowling has used her talents and stature as a writer to fight inequality on both a local and global level. Herself the frequent object of censorship in schools and libraries across the globe, as well as online targeting, Rowling has emerged as a vocal proponent of free expression and access to literature and ideas for children, as well as incarcerated people, the learning-disabled, and women and girls worldwide

PEN America will present the new PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award to Egyptian novelist and journalist Ahmed Naji, who is currently serving a two-year jail term in Egypt on charges of “violating public modesty” for sexual content in his novel The Use of Life. Naji’s case is emblematic of Egypt’s escalating crackdown on free expression that has in the past months expanded beyond press freedom and public demonstrations to also target artistic and cultural spaces, including the arrests of writers and raids of a number of art galleries, theaters, and publishing houses.

The 2016 PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award will be awarded to Lee-Anne Walters and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha of Flint, Michigan. Walters and Dr. Hanna-Attisha were two essential voices in exposing the lead poisoning of Flint’s water supply, calling out the grave damage to public health in a majority black community where about 40 percent of the population lives in poverty.

PEN will salute Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch as the Gala's Publisher Honoree, for his leadership in the fight against censorship by both new and traditional actors.

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