NEW YORK—PEN America announced today that it will honor legendary author and LGBT cultural pioneer Edmund White with the annual PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction. The 2018 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature will go to Irish novelist Edna O’Brien, whose acclaimed work broke down social and sexual barriers for women in Ireland and beyond.

PEN America will also honor poet Kamau Brathwaite with the PEN/ Voelcker Award, translator Barbara Harshav with the PEN/ Manheim Medal for Translation, and author Dave Kindred with the PEN/ ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing. The PEN/ Laura Pels Foundation for Theater Awards will be conferred on playwrights Luis Alfaro for Master American Dramatist, Sibyl Kempson for American Dramatist in Mid-Career, and Mike Lew for Emerging American Playwright.

White, O’Brien, and PEN America’s other career achievement award winners will accept their prizes at the 2018 PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, February 20, at the NYU Skirball Center near Washington Square Park. Featuring readings, performances, and edge-of-your-seat live announcements of the winners for the year’s prizes, this annual celebration of literature and free expression has become one the city’s premier literary events drawing the biggest names and the hottest new voices in literature. Special guests, finalists, and presenters in attendance will include:

Tanwi Nandini Islam
Yahdon Israel
Hari Kunzru
Victor LaValle
Colum McCann
Lynn Nottage
Philip Roth
Layli Long Soldier
Monique Truong
Kevin Young
David Zirin
… and many more

Hosted by author, social activist, and political commentator
Sally Kohn

A full list of finalists for the 2018 PEN America Literary Awards is available at All book award winners will be announced live at the ceremony. Tickets to the ceremony are available to the public at:


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

CONTACT: Michele Landa Riggio,, 646-779-4830