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CANCELED: New Year New Books 2022

On top: “New Year New Books”; below: “Celebrating and Defending the Written Word”

Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in New York City we have been forced to cancel the New Year New Books Party that was slated to take place on January 21st.

We hope to be safely back in person for the 2022 Literary Awards! Please stay tuned for more details about our 2022 PEN America Literary Awards and after-party and view the 2022 Literary Awards Longlists here.

While we won’t be coming together in NYC to celebrate our members who have been produced and published in 2020 and 2021, we will be honoring those books on this page and across our social media channels. If you would like to celebrate your publication please submit your work here.

Check out fellow members’ publications in the slideshow below! Members will appear in alphabetical order by last name. Click through the slideshow by using the arrows on the left and right-hand sides of the images. You can also view the full gallery here.

Member Publications 2020 & 2021

Ring in the new year among fellow PEN America Members and supporters at our annual New Year New Books Party in New York City! As we welcome 2022, let us also gather in celebration and defense of the written word. The past year has seen alarming drives in legislatures, school districts, and communities nationwide to ban books that bring diversity and representation to our shelves. Join us in standing against censorship and for the joys that literature brings to our lives.

We will be celebrating with PEN America President Ayad Akhtar and our host committee of Zaina Arafat, Brit Bennett, Frances Cha, Naima Coster, Mike Curato, Robert Jones Jr., Brendan Kiely, and Melissa Lozada-Oliva. Come join us for toasts to our favorite books from 2021, have poems written on the spot for your enjoyment, share exquisite vittles, and engage in lively repartee. All allies of the literary community, including readers, writers, journalists, editors, agents, translators, publishers, and friends are warmly invited.

Have you had work published or produced in the past year? If so, we want to celebrate your successes! We are compiling works published in the past year from all of our Members to showcase and celebrate at our annual New Year New Books Party. Submit your work here.

The event will adhere to protocols developed in accordance with New York State regulations and in consultation with medical professionals for the safety of our guests and staff. All attendees must provide proof of vaccination and wear a mask when not consuming food or beverage.

Literary Host Committee

Ayad Akhtar headshotAyad Akhtar is a novelist and playwright, and has served as PEN America’s president since 2021. His work has been published and performed in over two dozen languages. He is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Edith Wharton Citation of Merit for Fiction, and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Akhtar is the author of Homeland Elegies (Little, Brown & Co.), which The Washington Post called “a tour de force” and The New York Times called “a beautiful novel…that had echoes of The Great Gatsby and that circles, with pointed intellect, the possibilities and limitations of American life.” His first novel, American Dervish (Little, Brown & Co.), was published in over 20 languages. 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).

Among other honors, Akhtar is the recipient of the Steinberg Playwrighting Award, the Nestroy Award, the Erwin Piscator Award, as well as fellowships from the American Academy in Rome, MacDowell, the Sundance Institute, and Yaddo, where he serves as a Board Director. Additionally, Ayad is a Board Trustee at New York Theatre Workshop, and was named the New York State Author, succeeding Colson Whitehead, by the New York State Writers Institute.

Zaina Arafat headshotZaina Arafat is an LGBTQ Arab-American fiction and nonfiction writer. She is the author of the novel, You Exist Too Much, which won a 2021 Lambda Literary Award and was named Roxane Gay’s favorite book of 2020. Her stories and essays have appeared in publications including The New York Times, Granta, The Believer, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Harper’s Bazaar, BuzzFeed, VICE, Guernica, Literary Hub, and NPR. In recognition of her work, she was awarded the Arab Women/Migrants from the Middle East fellowship at Jack Jones Literary Arts and named a Champion of Pride by The Advocate. She holds an MFA from the University of Iowa and an MA from Columbia University. She lives in Brooklyn and is currently at work on a collection of essays.

Arafat teaches creative writing at Barnard College. She has also taught at the University of Iowa, The School of The New York Times, The International Writing Program, and the Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop, as well as abroad in Jordan, Egypt, and Eritrea, where she taught creative writing as part of a U.S. State Department/International Writing Program delegation. She has also led workshops for DREAMers and DACA recipients through the Writers Guild Initiative.

As an editor, she curated a portfolio of prose and poetry in response to the travel ban, as well as a Q&A series with Muslim writers for The Margins. She also served as the managing editor of VinePair, the largest online publication on wine news and culture.

Brit Bennett headshotBrit Bennett earned her MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan. Her debut novel The Mothers was a New York Times bestseller, and her second novel The Vanishing Half was an instant #1 New York Times bestseller. Her essays have been featured in The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and Jezebel.

Frances Cha HeadshotFrances Cha is the author of If I Had Your Face (Ballantine, 2020), which was named a best book of the year by TIME, NPR and BBC, among other publications, and is being translated into 11 languages and adapted for a television series. She is from South Korea, and worked as a travel and culture editor for CNN in Seoul and Hong Kong. She has taught creative writing at Yonsei University and media studies at Ewha Womans University. Her children’s book The Goblin Twins, set in Korea and New York, is forthcoming from Crown Publishing in 2023. She divides her time between Brooklyn and Seoul.

Naima Coster HeadshotNaima Coster is the author of two novels, What’s Mine and Yours, an instant New York Times bestseller, and her debut, Halsey Street, which was a finalist for the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Fiction. Naima’s stories and essays have appeared in Elle, Time, Kweli, the New York Times, The Paris Review Daily, The Cut, The Sunday Times, Catapult, and elsewhere. In 2020, she received the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 honor. Naima has taught writing for over a decade in community settings, youth programs, and universities. She currently teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Antioch University in L.A. Naima tweets as @zafatista and writes the newsletter, Bloom How You Must. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Mike Curato HeadshotMike Curato loves drawing and writing almost as much as he loves cupcakes and ice cream (and that’s a LOT!). He is the author and illustrator of everyone’s favorite polka-dotted elephant, Little Elliot. His debut title, Little Elliot, Big City, released in 2014 to critical acclaim, has won several awards and has been translated into over 10 languages. There are now five books in the Little Elliot series, including Little Elliot, Big Family; Little Elliot, Big Fun; Little Elliot, Fall Friends; and Merry Christmas, Little Elliot. Meanwhile, Curato had the pleasure of illustrating What If… by Samantha Berger, All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle, Worm Loves Worm by J. J. Austrian, The Power of One by Trudy Ludwig, and contributed to What’s Your Favorite Color? by Eric Carle and Friends, Sunny Day: A Celebration of the Sesame Street Theme Song, and Dear Heartbreak: YA Authors and Teens on the Dark Side of Love. Publishers Weekly named Curato a “Fall 2014 Flying Start.” In the same year, he won the Society of Illustrators Original Art show’s Dilys Evans Founder’s Award. In 2021, Curato’s debut young adult graphic novel, Flamer, was awarded a 2021 Golden Kite Award Honor for Illustrated Book for Older Readers by the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators.

Robert Jones Jr.Robert Jones Jr. headshot is the author of The New York Times instant bestselling novel The Prophets, which was a finalist for the 2021 National Book Award for Fiction. He has written for numerous publications, including The New York TimesEssence, and The Paris Review. He is the creator and curator of the social justice, social media community Son of Baldwin, which has over 290,000 followers across platforms.

Brendan Kiely headshotBrendan Kiely is The New York Times-bestselling author of All American Boys (with Jason Reynolds), Tradition, The Last True Love Story, and The Gospel of Winter. His most recent book is The Other Talk: Reckoning with Our White Privilege. His work has been published in over a dozen languages, has received the Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award and the Walter Dean Myers Award, and has been honored in ALA’s Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults. A former high school teacher, he is now on the faculty of the Solstice MFA Program. He watches too much basketball and reads too many books at the same time, but most importantly, he lives for and loves his wife and son.

Melissa Lozada-Oliva headshotMelissa Lozada-Oliva is a Guatelombian (Guatemalan-Colombian) American poet and screenwriter living in Brooklyn by way of Massachusetts. Her book peluda (Button Poetry, 2017) explores the intersections of Latina identity, feminism, hair removal, and what it means to belong. Her recent novel-in-verse Dreaming of You is about bringing Selena back to life through a seance and the disastrous consequences that follow. She is the co-host of podcast “Say More with Olivia Gatwood Who Is a Massive Bitch.” She is currently working on a pilot about a haunted bookstore. She’s interested in horror because she’s scared of everything. She likes when things are a little funny so that she has space to be a little sad. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in Remezcla, Paper Magazine, The Guardian, The BreakBeat Poets, Kenyon Review, Vulture, Bustle, Glamour, HuffPost, Muzzle Magazine, The Adroit Journal, and BBC Mundo.


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