(NEW YORK)– On Tues., Dec. 13, PEN America will convene writers, editors, and publishing professionals for a town hall that will probe how entrenched habits and beliefs can be challenged to transform the publishing industry to achieve greater representation and success by diverse authors to meet the growing diversity of readers in the United States.

The discussion will be moderated by PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel and will take place at Penguin Random House, 1745 Broadway in New York City from 7-9 p.m ET. Advance registration for in-person attendance is required by noon Dec.  12. A livestream will be available on the event page on the day of the event.

Press coverage is welcome. Please RSVP to Suzanne Trimel: [email protected]

PEN America President Ayad Akhtar will give opening remarks. Writer, editor, and publisher Roxane Gay, author Min Jin Lee, publishing veteran Erroll McDonald, and writer and editor Chris Beha will anchor the discussion. The audience will have the opportunity to join in the discussion and continue the conversation in a post-event reception.

PEN America’s landmark new report, “Reading Between the Lines: Race, Equity, and Book Publishing”, detailed a Gordian knot of preconceptions, business practices, and perceptions that have kept book publishing overwhelmingly white both in terms of staff and leadership as well as books published. Decades of efforts including hiring pushes, new imprints and hefty investments have seemed to come and go, with limited lasting progress to show. This conversation will probe a level deeper, asking how some of the most entrenched commercial, cultural and organizational habits and beliefs can be challenged and transformed to bring about a publishing industry and literary canon that better reflects American society in all of its complexity.

Questions that will be raised include:

  • Do publishers have a moral and social obligation to steward the making of an “American Archive” and literary canon that represent the pluralism of the society we live in?
  • Does publishing as an industry have an economic imperative for racial equity and diversity?
  • Can the publishing industry move beyond and evolve from the long-standing assumption the target reader is “white?”

NOTE: The town hall will take place as part of PEN America’s annual general meeting and attendance is limited to members in good standing. New and renewing members can attend by joining today, using the discount code AGM2022 for 20% off a professional membership. Please direct any questions regarding membership to [email protected]

DETAILS:

What: Town hall, “Do Publishers Have a Moral Obligation to Diversify Literature?”

When: Tues., Dec. 13 7-9 pm

Where: Penguin Random House, 1745 Broadway, New York City, 10019

About PEN America

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. Learn more at pen.org.