New Year New Books Party 2023

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, we rang 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 welcomed 2023, we also gathered in celebration and defense of the written word. The past year had seen alarming drives in legislatures, school districts, and communities nationwide to ban books that bring diversity and representation to our shelves. Members and allies joined us in standing against censorship and for the joys that literature brings to our lives.

We celebrated with our literary host committee, including Zaina Arafat, Jennifer Finney Boylan, Frances Cha, Karen Chee, Robert Jones Jr., Zain Khalid, Sally Wen Mao, and Prince Shakur. We toasted to our favorite books from 2022, had poems from Ars Poetica written on the spot for, shared exquisite small bites by PS Tailored Events, and engaged in lively repartee. All allies of the literary community, including readers, writers, journalists, editors, agents, translators, publishers, and friends were warmly invited.


Check out PEN America Members’ publications from 2020 to 2023 in our Flickr gallery! Members will appear in alphabetical order by last name. Click on any gallery image to view more details about the publication.

We also compiled a list of 2022 publications by members whose works are available on Bookshop! Click here to view the full list.

Literary Host Committee

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 M.F.A. from Iowa University and an M.A. from Columbia University. She lives in Brooklyn and is currently at work on a collection of essays. 

Jennifer Finney Boylan headshotJennifer Finney Boylan is the author of 15 books and the inaugural Anna Quindlen Writer-in-Residence at Barnard College. Her column appears on the opinion page of The New York Times on alternate Wednesdays. She served on the Board of Directors of GLAAD from 2011 to 2018, and as co-chair from 2013 to 2017. She also served on the Board of Trustees of the Kinsey Institute for Research on Sex, Gender, and Reproduction from 2012-16. She was a cast member on I Am Cait, the reality series on E!, and served as an advisor to the Amazon series Transparent. Her latest novel Long Black Veil was published in April 2017. Her 2003 memoir, She’s Not There: a Life in Two Genders, was the first bestselling work by a transgender American. Boylan has made numerous television appearances and also been the subject of documentaries on CBS News’ 48 Hours and The History Channel. She served on the 2017 PEN World Voices Festival curatorial committee. She joined the PEN America board in 2018.

Frances Cha HeadshotFrances Cha is the author of the novel, If I Had Your Face, which was named one of the Best Books of the Year by Time, NPR, BBC and Esquire among other publications. Born in Minnesota, she moved to Texas at age 4, Hong Kong at age 8 and South Korea at age 11.  She received her MFA from Columbia University, where she received a Dean’s Fellowship. She worked as the assistant managing editor of Samsung Economic Research Institute’s business journal in Seoul, and as a travel and culture editor for CNN in Seoul and Hong Kong. She teaches undergraduate fiction at Columbia University. Her children’s book, The Goblin Twins, is forthcoming from Crown in 2023. She divides her time between New York and Seoul.

Karen Chee headshot

Karen Chee is an Emmy & WGA award-nominated comedian, writer, and actor. She is currently writing for season two of Pachinko (Apple TV) and for Late Night with Seth Meyers, as well as developing a movie and working on a book, among other projects. Previously, she has written for the Golden Globes and Yearly Departed (Amazon), helped develop pilots for Netflix and Comedy Central, acted in HBO’s High Maintenance, and contributed regularly to The New Yorker. She has also been published in places like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and McSweeney’s.

Robert Jones Jr., Robert Jones Jr. headshotis the author of The New York Times bestselling novel, The Prophets, which won the 2022 Publishing Triangle Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction and the 2022 NAIBA Book of the Year Award for Fiction. It was also a finalist for the 2021 National Book Award for Fiction and was named a notable book by The New York Times and one of the best books of 2021 by Time, Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, NPR, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post, among many others. His writings have been featured in The New York Times, Essence, and The Paris Review, as well as in the critically acclaimed anthologies Four Hundred Souls and The 1619 Project.

Zain Khalid headshotZain Khalid’s writing has appeared in The New Yorker, n+1, The Believer, Astra Magazine, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, and elsewhere. He is also the fiction editor at The Drift. A New York Times Writer To Watch, his first novel, BROTHER ALIVE, is out from Grove Atlantic. 


Sally Wen Mao headshot

Sally Wen Mao is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection The Kingdom of Surfaces (Graywolf Press, 2023), and the debut fiction collection Ninetails (Penguin Books). She is also the author of two previous poetry collections, Oculus (Graywolf Press, 2019), a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and Mad Honey Symposium (Alice James Books, 2014). The recipient of two Pushcart Prizes and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, she was recently a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library and a Shearing Fellow at the Black Mountain Institute.

Prince Shakur headshotPrince Shakur is a queer, Jamaican-American author, freelance journalist, videomaker, and New York Times recognized organizer. His writings range from op-eds in Teen Vogue to features on the violent impacts of policing and cultural essays that delve into black icons, like Bob Marley or Huey Newton. In 2017, his video series, Two Woke Minds, earned him the Rising Star Grant from GLAAD. As an organizer, he brought Black Lives Matter to his university campus, organised for labor rights in Seattle, disrupted a Bill Clinton speech in 2016, did solidarity work at the US/Mexican border, and organized with Black Queer Intersectional Collective during the height of the George Floyd protests. His work, whether literary, visual, or grassroots, is stepped in his commitment to black liberation, prison abolition, and queer resilience. His debut memoir, When They Tell You To Be Good, is out from Tin House Books.