(New York, NY) — PEN America announced today that actor and off-Broadway phenomenon Kara Young will host the organization’s 57th annual Literary Awards Ceremony on April 8. Described by 2020 host Seth Meyers as “the Oscars for books,” the Literary Awards Ceremony will celebrate literary excellence from the past year, bestowing book awards across genres and categories. The evening’s virtual celebration will also include musical performances, guest star presenters, and the presentation of PEN America’s career achievement awards announced earlier this week.

“Kara Young has a strong passion for storytelling and shares a deep connection to writers. As we host our first-ever virtual awards ceremony, I am thrilled to have as master of ceremonies someone who can channel the emotion and excitement of this literary moment. This year’s ceremony celebrates literary icons and the brightest stars in contemporary literature, but also the creativity, resilience, power, and beauty demonstrated by so many in the literary community during the pandemic,” said Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf, PEN America’s senior director of literary programs.

​”​Stories are the lifeblood of humanity’s evolution,” said 2021 host Young. “As an artist, being a vessel of storytelling feels like ancestral perseverance to shift consciousness and change the world.”​

Harlem born and raised, Young’s film and TV credits include Chemical HeartsAfter YangHair WolfRandom Acts of Flyness, and The Punisher. On stage she’s earned plaudits for her roles in Halfway Bitches Go Straight to HeavenAll the Natalie PortmansNew Englanders, and many other productions. She was a 2020 Lucille Lortel nominee for outstanding lead actress in a play; and an Antonyo Award nominee for best actor in a play.

The PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony takes place at 7pm on Thursday, April 8. PEN America previously announced the recipients of its career achievement and emerging writer awards, as well as the Finalists for its book awards. The book award winners will be announced during the live ceremony, which will also include musical performances, tributes to members of the literary community lost this past year, and celebrations for the career achievement honorees.