NEW YORK—Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jennifer Egan today became the new president of PEN America, taking leadership of the organization of writers as it mobilizes against mounting dangers for free expression rights in the United States and worldwide. PEN America also announced the completion of a planned unification with an existing PEN center in Los Angeles that will become a new West Coast hub for the organization.

Egan succeeds Andrew Solomon, the writer, journalist and lecturer who has led PEN America for the past three years through significant expansion of its work to celebrate and defend free expression, including through the amplification of lesser heard voices and the fostering of dialogue across geographic and ideological bounds.  Over the last year PEN America has expanded its membership to include representation in all 50 states and activities in more than 14 U.S. cities.  

“The power and meaning of the written word are central to the complexities we face today—both as a nation, and globally,’’ said PEN America President Jennifer Egan. “To my mind, freedom of expression is a basic human right.  I’m honored to uphold and act as a steward of this right, and of PEN America’s mission.’’

PEN America has concluded its consolidation with the former PEN Center USA, a California organization whose members overwhelmingly ratified  the national unification in a vote that concluded last week. With a combined membership of more than 7,000 writers, journalists, screen and script writers, translators, editors, agents and their allies, and offices in New York, Washington, and Los Angeles, PEN America is the largest of the 100-plus centers that make up the PEN International network.

Egan has been a PEN America Trustee since 2013. She is the author most recently of Manhattan Beach, awarded the Carnegie Medal for literary excellence in fiction in February. Her novel A Visit From the Goon Squad won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. She will work in partnership with Suzanne Nossel, who has the new title of Chief Executive Officer after serving as PEN America’s Executive Director since 2013.

“Amid mounting daily affronts to free speech and open discourse, we turn to the imagination, narrative and creative inspiration as wellsprings to fuel our defense against assaults on expression, facts and truth,’’ said PEN America Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Nossel. “A writer both renowned and beloved, Jennifer Egan ’s consummate skill, insight and humanity make her a perfect leader for PEN America at a time when our mission faces grave challenge.”

PEN America also announced its 2018 Board of Trustees, which includes three incoming members from the former PEN Center USA in Los Angeles. A full listing of new members is available here


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.



Michele Riggio, Director of Communications: [email protected]

Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Coordinator: [email protected]