2018 PEN America Literary Gala & Free Expression Awards
Tuesday, May 22, 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 2018 PEN America Literary Gala:
Jennifer Egan, President, PEN America
Presentation of the 2018 Literary Service Award
Introduction by Morgan Freeman, remarks by Stephen King
Presentation of the 2018 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award
Introduction and letter read by Margaret Atwood, award accepted by Chit Su Win, Kyaw Soe Oo’s wife, and Thura Aung, Wa Lone’s brother
Remarks from 2012 Freedom to Write Award Recipient Eskinder Nega
Introduction by Jennifer Egan, remarks by Eskinder Nega
Presentation of the 2018 PEN America Publisher Honoree
Introduction by Jon Karp, remarks by Carolyn Reidy
Suzanne Nossel, Chief Executive Officer, PEN America
Presentation of the 2018 Courage Award
Remarks by Cameron Kasky, Samantha Fuentes, and Zion Kelly
Call to Action: Free Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo
We would like to thank all our donors for their generous support.
GALA COMMITTEE CHAIRS
Markus Dohle, Roxanne Donovan, Sean Kelly
Toni K. Goodale
Joanna Coles, Aidan Donnelley Rowley, Jeanmarie Fenrich, Patricia Fili-Krushel, Sheree Friedman, Kelly Posner Gerstenhaber, Nan Graham, Judith Greenberg, Elizabeth Hemmerdinger, Zachary Karabell, Jonathan Karp, Kathy Kaye & Jonathan Herman, Sandra Leong, Margaret Munzer Loeb, Alexandra Munroe, Edward Tyler Nahem, Deborah Needleman, Nancy Novogrod, Holly Peterson, Michael Pietsch, Theresa Rebeck, Laura Baudo Sillerman, Suzy Wahba, Victoria Ward
2018 PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award: Cameron Kasky, Samantha Fuentes, and Zion Kelly
As part of their campaign, Kasky, Fuentes, and Kelly have forthrightly confronted the outsized impact of gun violence in black, Latino, and poor communities and the hurdles confronting communities… More
2018 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award: Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are journalists who specialize in politically sensitive subjects. When arrested they were on assignment by Reuters investigating the torching and pillage of Inn… More
2018 PEN America Literary Service Award: Stephen King
King is an impassioned advocate of freedom of expression, literacy, and access to information, which he and his wife Tabitha support through their philanthropy. More
Literary Gala Celebrates Free Speech and the Power of Words to Bridge Geographic, Cultural, and Political Divides
PEN America honored legendary suspense writer Stephen King with the 2018 PEN America Literary Service Award at its Literary Gala on May 22 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. PEN America confers the Literary Service Award each year 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.
Stephen King is the author of more than 50 books, all of them worldwide best sellers and many—including such classics as It, The Stand, The Dark Tower, Misery, Lisey’s Story, 11/22/63, On Writing, Under the Dome, and many more—providing the basis for major motion pictures and serving as cultural hallmarks for generations. Among his many accolades are the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters and the 2014 National Medal of Arts presented by Barack Obama. His depictions of horror and violence have also earned him a title as one of the most banned or challenged authors in recent decades. King is an impassioned advocate of freedom of expression, literacy, and access to information, which he and his wife Tabitha support through their philanthropy. King’s Haven Foundation also provides unique and generous support to writers and other freelancers in the arts who have suffered personal hardship. His outspoken defense against encroachments on free speech and pointed public criticism of policies that infringe on this and other rights have resulted in his being blocked by President Trump on Twitter.
Scribner released King’s newest novel, The Outsider, on May 22, the day of the PEN America award presentation.
Carolyn Reidy, President and Chief Executive Officer of Simon & Schuster, Inc., was recognized as the annual ceremony’s Publisher Honoree. Under her leadership, Simon & Schuster has published many acclaimed and award-winning works of lasting cultural significance, has greatly expanded its publishing activities in international territories, and has been an industry leader in finding new audiences through digital capabilities. Reidy’s commitment to diversity at Simon & Schuster has led the company to make substantial progress in creating a more diverse workforce and to publish a wider range of voices that is more truly reflective of our larger culture today. Reidy also serves on the Boards of Directors of the Association of American Publishers and the National Book Foundation, and, as a former long-serving board member of Literacy Partners, has provided vital support to literacy programs to engender a new generation of readers and writers.
Detained Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo received the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award for their work exposing the massacre of 10 Rohingya men in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. The PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award shines the global spotlight on an imprisoned writer or creative artist persecuted for exercising his or her right to free expression. Previous winners include the late Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo; Egyptian novelist Ahmed Naji; and Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov. The PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award will recognize an individual or organization that embodies courage in self-expression. Previous winners include the Women’s March, the surviving staff of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, and Flint, Michigan, water activists Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha and Lee-Anne Walters.
PEN America honored leaders in youth activism against gun violence Cameron Kasky and Samantha Fuentes, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and Zion Kelly, the twin sibling of a victim of gun violence, with the 2018 PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award.