PEN Out Loud x The Schomburg: Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah with Mitchell S. Jackson

New York Times-bestselling author and 2019 PEN/Jean Stein Award-winner, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah joins PEN Out Loud to discuss his debut novel, Chain-Gang All -Stars, a kaleidoscopic narrative that peels away at the American carceral system. In a world not far from our own, and one in which prisoners are modern-day gladiators, the propulsive novel examines “what freedom in this country really means,” and interrogates the “American prison system’s unholy alliance of systemic racism, unchecked capitalism, and mass incarceration.” He is joined in conversation with 2021 Pulitzer Prize recipient, Mitchell S. Jackson.


Books will be available for purchase at the event. You can preorder the book here

Presented in collaboration with The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

ASL interpretive services are provided by ProBono ASL.



Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is the New York Times-bestselling author of Friday Black. His work has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Esquire, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. He was a National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” honoree, the winner of the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award and the Saroyan Prize, and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Award for Best First Book, along with many other honors. Raised in Spring Valley, New York, he now lives in the Bronx.



Mitchell S. Jackson

Mitchell S. Jackson is the winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing and the 2021 National Magazine Award in Feature Writing. His debut novel The Residue Years received wide critical praise and won a Whiting Award and The Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence. The Residue Years was also a finalist for The Center for Fiction Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, the PEN / Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction, and the Hurston / Wright Legacy Award. Jackson’s honors include fellowships and awards from John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Creative Capital, the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center, the Lannan Foundation, the Ford Foundation, PEN America, TED, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Center for Fiction. His writing has been featured on This American Life, on the cover of the New York Times Book ReviewTime Magazine, Esquire Magazine, and Marie Claire Magazine, as well as in The New YorkerThe New York TimesHarper’s MagazineHarper’s Bazaar MagazineThe Paris ReviewThe Washington Post MagazineThe Guardian, and elsewhere. His nonfiction book Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family was published in 2019 and named a best book of the year by fifteen publications, including NPR, Time MagazineThe Paris ReviewThe RootKirkus Reviews, and Buzzfeed. Jackson is a columnist for Esquire Magazine. His next novel John of Watts is forthcoming from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

About the Schomburg Center

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is a research library of the New York Public Library (NYPL) and an archive repository for information on people of African descent worldwide. Located at 515 Malcolm X Boulevard (Lenox Avenue) between West 135th and 136th Streets in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, it has, almost from its inception, been an integral part of the Harlem community. It is named for Afro-Puerto Rican scholar Arturo Alfonso Schomburg.

The resources of the center are broken up into five divisions, the Art and Artifacts Division, the Jean Blackwell Hutson General Research and Reference Division, the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division, and the Photographs and Prints Division.

In addition to research services, the center hosts readings, discussions, art exhibitions, and theatrical events. It is open to the general public.