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The annual PEN America Literary Gala is a highlight of the New York literary and social calendars, with hundreds of guests and an exceptional group of leading writers who sit among them as Literary Hosts. 

This year’s celebration took place Monday, May 23, at the American Museum of Natural History. The evening begins with an elegant cocktail reception, followed by dinner “under the whale” in the Museum’s Hall of Ocean Life. You can watch the full program below, browse photos, and read remarks from our honorees and featured guests.

The proceeds from this dinner are crucial to PEN America’s dynamic cultural programming and critical advocacy work on behalf of free expression. For more information on the PEN America Literary Gala, please contact the special events team at [email protected].

Watch the 2022 PEN America Literary Gala

Photo Highlights

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Opening Remarks

“The exercise of speech that matters to us most, that must matter to us most, that speech which articulates our needs, our understanding, our competing senses of reality itself, this speech which shapes our lives in co-operation with one another, however tensely, this is what democracy is built on. This is what democracy means.”


2022 Honorees

Zadie Smith, PEN/Audible’s Literary Service Honoree

Zadie Smith, PEN/Audible’s Literary Service Honoree

Smith is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has twice been listed as one of Granta’s 20 Best Young British Novelists.
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Jack Petocz, PEN/Benenson Courage Award

Jack Petocz, PEN/Benenson Courage Award

Petocz is a junior at Flagler Palm Coast High School and a a political strategist at Gen-Z For Change, working on the midterm elections for the progressive non-profit.
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Vladyslav Yesypenko, PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award Honoree

Vladyslav Yesypenko, PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award Honoree

Yesypenko is a Ukrainian freelance journalist whose work covers social issues affecting residents of Crimea and the profound impacts of Russian occupation on the lives of Crimean Tatars.
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Don Katz, Business Visionary Honoree

Don Katz, Business Visionary Honoree

Don Katz is the founder and executive chairman of Audible, Inc., the leading creator and provider of premium audio storytelling.
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2022 Presenters

Asia Kate Dillon

Asia Kate Dillon, actor

Michael Douglas

Michael Douglas, actor and producer

Senator Cory Booker

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)

Ruth Negga

Ruth Negga, actor



headshot of Faith Salie

Faith Salie
Award-winning journalist, writer, and actress

2022 Sponsors

Gold Sponsor
Penguin Random House

Award Underwriters
Edwin Barbey Charitable Trust
Lawrence B. and Elyse Benenson

Barnes & Noble
Willow Bay and Robert A. Iger
Roxanne Donovan and Tom Scarangello
Dasha Epstein
Patricia Fili-Krushel and Kenneth Krushel
Elizabeth Hemmerdinger and Alix L.L. Ritchie
Margaret Munzer Loeb
O’Melveny & Myers LLP
Anya and Albert Salama
Ann and Richard Sarnoff Family Foundation
Andrew Solomon and John Habich Solomon
Jamie Wolf

Amazon Literary Partnership
Amazon Studios
Arnold & Porter
The Atlantic
Amanda Bennett
Colette and Daniel Bennett
Nisha Kumar Behringer and Michael P. Behringer
Book of the Month
Bridget Colman
Discovery, Inc.
Karin and Markus Dohle
Patricia Duff and Richard D. Cohen
Fresh Produce Media
Sarah, Sheree, and Jerry Friedman
Ashley Garrett and Alan Jones
The Marc Haas Foundation
Hachette Book Group
Tom Healy and Fred P. Hochberg
Tracy Higgins and James Leitner
Zachary Karabell
Mary and Sean Kelly & Family
Sandra Leong
Macmillan Publishers
Anne and Jay McInerney
Annette L. Nazareth and Roger W. Ferguson, Jr.
Open Society Foundations
Zibby and Kyle Owens
The Holly Peterson Foundation
Recorded Books, Inc.
Aidan Donnelley Rowley
Seedlings Foundation
Selendy Gay Elsberg
Ting Tsung & Wei Fong Chao Foundation
Suzy and Sadek Wahba
Tali Farhadian Weinstein and Boaz Weinstein

Hudson, a Dufry Company
Margery Mayer
The New Yorker
Other Press
Simon and Schuster, Inc.
Mila Atmos Tuttle
Warner Bros. Discovery

Joanne Leedom Ackerman
Hilaria and Alec Baldwin Foundation
Bertelsmann Printing Group
Blackstone Publishing
The Coleman Foundation
Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
First Republic Bank
Agnes Gund
The New York Times
Pottermore Publishing
Victoria Sanders & Associates
James Thackara
Martha Wallau
Fred Wistow

Gala Committee Co-Chairs
Colette Bennett
Markus Dohle
Sean Kelly
Anya Salama
Richard Sarnoff

Gala Committee Members
Pamela and Peter Barbey
Nisha Kumar Behringer
Lawrence B. and Elyse Benenson
Jennifer Finney Boylan
Beth Bugdaycay
John Chao
Bridget Colman
Roxanne Donovan
Patricia Duff
Patricia Fili-Krushel
Sheree and Jerry Friedman
Ashley Garrett and Alan Jones
Tom Healy and Fred P. Hochberg
Elizabeth Hemmerdinger and Alix L.L. Ritchie
Tracy Higgins
Zachary Karabell
Margaret Munzer Loeb
Yvonne Marsh
Jay McInerney
Holly Peterson
Michael Pietsch
Aidan Donnelley Rowley
Andrew Solomon
Jamie Wolf
Tali Farhadian Weinstein and Boaz Weinstein

Support PEN America

Our PEN America Literary Gala provides the essential resources we need to defend the freedom to write worldwide. Please consider making a donation in support of this vital work. Thank you.