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[VIRTUAL] Annual General Meeting: Reckoning and Reconciliation in Biden’s America

Join PEN America’s town hall, “Reckoning and Reconciliation in Biden’s America,” on Tuesday, January 26 at 8pm ET/5pm PT. This compelling, timely discussion on how we move forward is open to PEN America Members and supporters nationwide and internationally as the centerpiece of our annual general meeting.

We are a nation battered and bruised, the very fabric of our society torn by polarization, lies, and pandemic, and our democracy tested and nearly toppled. In the wake of an insurrection, with a new presidential administration and vaccines to counter COVID at hand, we face profound questions about how to process what we have passed through as we navigate the road forward. Join PEN America for “Reckoning and Reconciliation in Biden’s America,” an exploration of what combination of prosecutions, commissions, conversations, apologies, and forgiveness is fitting to help the nation come to grips with what has transpired.

PEN America’s new president, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and author of Homeland Elegies Ayad Akhtar, journalist Masha Gessen, historian Jill Lepore, political scientist Omar G. Encarnación, and columnists Charles Blow and Peggy Noonan bring a diversity of perspectives to the thinking on these crucial next steps for our nation. With moderation by PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel, they will debate the responsibility of a range of societal institutions including courts, the media, universities, and cultural and civic institutions in restoring social bonds and public faith and ensuring that the most serious dangers revealed over the last four years are not simply left to fester. Is reconciliation possible, advisable—or imperative? What can we learn from the “truth and reconciliation” processes undertaken—or not—in other countries emerging from turmoil? Are the mechanisms we have in place up to this challenge, or do we need something more? And how far back do we need to root in searching for the source of what has befallen us?

Register in advance for the event. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about attending the event. A question period will be open to the audience after the panelists’ discussion.


Ayad Akhtar headshotAyad Akhtar is a novelist and playwright. Akhtar is the winner of numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and an award in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Akhtar is the author of American Dervish (Little, Brown & Co.) and his latest book is Homeland Elegies. As a playwright, he has written Junk (Lincoln Center, Broadway; Kennedy Prize for American Drama, Tony nomination); Disgraced (Lincoln Center, Broadway; Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Tony nomination); The Who & The What (Lincoln Center); and The Invisible Hand (NYTW; Obie Award, Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award, Olivier, and Evening Standard nominations). As a screenwriter, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for best screenplay for The War Within. Among other honors, Akhtar is the recipient of the Steinberg Playwrighting Award, the Nestroy Award, and the Erwin Piscator Award. Akhtar is a Board Trustee at PEN America, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and New York Theatre Workshop. 

Charles Blow Headshot

Charles Blow is an acclaimed journalist and op-ed columnist for The New York Times who appears frequently on CNN. He is the author of The New York Times bestselling memoir Fire Shut Up in My Bones. He lives in Atlanta.

Omar G. Encarnacion Headshot

Omar G. Encarnación is a professor of political studies at Bard College. His areas of focus include comparative politics with a focus on Latin America and Iberia, theories of regime change, democratization politics, and LGBT rights. He is the author, among other works, of Democracy without Justice in Spain: The Politics of Forgetting.

Masha Gessen headshotMasha Gessen began contributing to The New Yorker in 2014 and became a staff writer in 2017. Gessen is the author of 11 books, including Surviving Autocracy and The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, which won the National Book Award in 2017. Gessen has written about Russia, autocracy, LGBT rights, Vladimir Putin, and Donald Trump, among others, for The New York Review of Books and The New York Times.

Jill Lepore Headshot

Jill Lepore is a professor of American history at Harvard University and a staff writer at The New Yorker. She is the author of many award-winning books, including the international bestseller These Truths: A History of the United States and most recently, If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future.

Peggy Noonan Headshot

Peggy Noonan is a weekly columnist for The Wall Street Journal and contributor to NBC News and ABC News. She was a primary speechwriter and special assistant to President Ronald Reagan. The author of multiple bestselling books, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2017.

Suzanne Nossel Headshot

Suzanne Nossel is the CEO of PEN America, the foremost organization working to protect and advance human rights, free expression, and literature. As CEO, Nossel has led campaigns for free expression in Hong Kong and China, Myanmar, Russia, Eurasia, and the United States. Her career has spanned government service and leadership roles in the corporate and nonprofit sectors. Nossel has also served as the chief operating officer of Human Rights Watch and as executive director of Amnesty International USA. She also held senior State Department positions in the Clinton and Obama administrations. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Nossel frequently writes op-eds for The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and other publications, as well as a regular column for Foreign Policy.

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