2017 PEN Literary Gala & Free Expression Awards
Tuesday, April 25, 6:30pm
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street, New York City
Watch videos and read transcripts from the night of the 2017 PEN America Literary Gala:
Andrew Solomon, President, PEN America
Welcome from the 2017 Publisher Honoree
John Sargent, CEO, Macmillan
Presentation of the 2017 PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award
Introduction by Meryl Streep, remarks by Stephen Sondheim, and performance by Audra McDonald
Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director, PEN America
Presentation of the 2017 PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award
Introduction by Toni Goodale and remarks by Bob Bland
Presentation of the 2017 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award
Introduction by Pamela and Peter Barbey and remarks by Natalya Kaplan, cousin of Oleg Sentsov
Presentation of a letter from Oleg Sentsov
Alan Cumming, Actor
Call to Action: Save the NEA and NEH
Rita Dove, Poet
We would like to thank all our donors for their generous support.
GALA COMMITTEE CHAIRS
Annette Tapert Allen, Toni K. Goodale
Roxanne Donovan, Margaret Munzer Loeb, Sean Kelly
Jay McInerney, Patricia Duff, Sheree Friedman, Alexandra Munroe, Judith Greenberg, Deborah Needleman, Holly Peterson, Joanna Coles, Pat Fili-Krushel, Zachary Karabell, Susie Lopez, Jeanmarie Fenrich, Elizabeth Hemmerdinger, Kelly Posner Gerstenhaber, Cathy Graham, Ed Tyler Nahem, Vicky Ward, Aidan Donnelley Rowley, Markus Dohle, Michael Pietsch, Kathy Kaye, Jonathan Herman, Suzy Wahba
2017 PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award: Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim has delighted audiences for more than six decades with beloved and timeless musicals that speak to the heart of the human condition. More
2017 PEN Publisher Honoree: John Sargent, Macmillan
John Sargent has served as a fierce advocate for the right to publish, challenging censorship and defending intellectual property rights for over three decades. More
2017 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award: Oleg Sentsov
Acclaimed filmmaker Oleg Sentsov was sentenced to 20 years in a Russian prison on charges of terrorism. Many international governments believe that he has been convicted on groundless charges… More
2017 PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom Of Expression Courage Award: The Women’s March
The Women's March helped galvanize a potent global movement to resist infringements on the rights and dignity of women and many other groups. More
APRIL 25 CEREMONY HERALDS THE POWER OF ART AND LITERATURE TO UNITE A DIVIDED WORLD
Master composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim will receive the 2017 PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award at PEN America’s annual Literary Gala on April 25 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Actress Meryl Streep, who starred in the 2014 film adaptation of Sondheim’s Into the Woods, will present the prize.
PEN America, the country’s largest writer-driven free expression advocacy organization, confers the Literary Service Award annually to a critically acclaimed writer whose body of work helps us understand and interpret the human condition, engendering empathy and imagination in even the darkest hours. As new threats to the creative community have arisen both around the world and particularly in the United States in recent months, Sondheim and other artists and writers—including previous winners J.K. Rowling, Tom Stoppard, Salman Rushdie, Toni Morrison, and Margaret Atwood—have spoken out across genre and art form to resist threats to artistic innovation, freedom of movement, and the right to dissent.
The gala will also recognize imprisoned Ukrainian writer and filmmaker Oleg Sentsov with the 2017 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award. Sentsov, an outspoken critic of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and takeover of Crimea, is serving a 20-year sentence in a Siberian penal colony after his arrest on terrorism charges that have been condemned by human rights groups as fabrications by a Russian government intent on silencing dissent.
The Women’s March will also be honored by PEN America at the gala for acting at a critical moment to overcome the inertia and fear of failure that can impair public mobilization, and for inspiring millions in America and around the world to do the same.
PEN America will also laud John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan Publishers, as the gala’s Publisher Honoree.