Feb. 21st: Hanya Yanagihara

Hanya Yanagihara

Hanya Yanagihara  |  A Little Life

In Conversation with Mic’s Madhulikka Sikka

6:30 PM at Politics & Prose @ Busboys and Poets Takoma

PEN/Faulkner and Politics & Prose present Hanya Yanagihara, Man Booker- and National Book Award-shortlisted author of A Little Life and The People in the Trees. This event is free and unticketed.

A Little Life

little lifeWhen four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.

Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

PEN/Faulkner Presents: Edna O’Brien

edna obrien


Edna O’Brien

April 3rd, 2016  |  6:00 PM

Sixth & I Historic Synagogue
600 I Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001 (map)

Tickets $20 online or at 877-987-6487

Edna O’Brien has been hailed as the doyenne of Irish literature. Her first novel in a decade, The Little Red Chairs – her “masterpiece,” says Philip Roth – will be released in March 2016. From the beginning of her career, O’Brien broke literary ground, writing openly about female sexuality in her first novel, The Country Girls. The book was lauded by critics and banned by the Irish Censorship Board. The idea that women had sex lives was, at that time, an obscene notion.

In the half century that’s followed, O’Brien has become one of the most celebrated writers in the English language.  She’s received the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award, the Irish PEN Lifetime Achievement Award, and honorary membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters. O’Brien will discuss her new novel and share her genius with us, if just for an evening.

Purchase Tickets


sixth iPEN/Faulkner Logo

Feb. 23rd: Celeste Ng and John Wray



Not Waving but Drowning: An Evening with Celeste Ng and John Wray

Moderated by Katy Waldman

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016  |  7:30 PM
Purchase a single ticket for $15

Folger Shakespeare Library – Elizabethan Theatre
201 East Capitol Street SE
Washington, DC 20003 

A “perfect” daughter goes missing in an Ohio town in the 1970s; a schizophrenic teenaged boy escapes from a mental hospital to the New York subway. Celeste Ng (Everything I Never Told You) and John Wray (Lowboy) explore family secrets and expectations, adolescent yearning and the fascination with danger.


Celeste Ng is the author of the novel Everything I Never Told You, a New York Times Notable Book and Amazon Best Book of the Year in 2014. Her fiction and essays have appeared in TriQuarterly, Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere. Her short story “Girls, At Play” received a Pushcart Prize in 2012. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Everything I Never Told You is at heart the beautifully crafted story of a family in pain, and the many reasons, personal and societal, that the Lees have lived most of their lives as strangers to one another. Making us care so deeply about her characters is Ng’s triumph.” – May-Lee Chai, The Dallas Morning News



John Wray is the author of the novels The Right Hand of Sleep, which won a Whiting Writers’ Award, Canaan’s TongueLowboy, and The Lost Time Accidents (forthcoming February 2016). He is a regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine. He was the recipient of a Berlin Prize from the American Academy of Berlin and is a resident of New York City.

“What is impressive about [Lowboy] is its control, and its humane comprehension of radical otherness. In this regard, it ideally justifies itself, as one always hopes novels will. You can imagine replying to someone who was curious about what it’s like to be schizophrenic, ‘Well, start with John Wray’s novel.’”

– James Wood, The New Yorker

We’re Looking for a Teen Parent Book Club Discussion Leader!

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Teen Parent Book Club Discussion Leader

The PEN/Faulkner Foundation is currently seeking discussion leaders for their Teen Parent Book Club program. Discussion leaders will lead group discussions of contemporary novels, short stories, memoirs, and poetry with groups of participating teen parents at local high schools. Discussion leaders will then host local authors of those works to meet with students and engage in discussions about literature and the writing life.

The program meets bi-weekly for hour-long sessions at lunchtime in on-site drop-in centers for teen parents and will run throughout the 2015-2016 school year. PEN/Faulkner is asking for a total time commitment of 5 hours/month. Volunteers will:

  • Lead bi-weekly book club discussions at one of five DC Public High Schools
  • Coordinate book club selections in consultation with participating students
  • Design discussion activities for each book club meeting
  • Engage contemporary authors in discussions of their work

Interested volunteers should have:

  • Classroom experience, preferably working with non-traditional students
  • Interest in contemporary fiction, poetry or literary non-fiction
  • A desire to engage diverse audiences in discussions about literature
  • Patience
  • Intellectual flexibility
  • Daytime availability during the week

*Candidates fluent in Spanish should make a note of this in their cover letter. However, Spanish fluency is not a requirement for this position.

If you are interested, please send a résumé́ and a brief cover letter (no more than 1 page) explaining your interest to Writers in Schools Program Coordinator Greg Langen (applications@penfaulkner.org), by Friday, January 22nd, 2016.

Episode 49 – Deborah Eisenberg

Deborah Eisenberg
In Episode 49 of the PEN/Faulkner Podcast, we present the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction to Deborah Eisenberg. Eisenberg reads here from the short story “Your Duck is My Duck,” published in Fence Magazine.
Thank you to Benedict Kupstas and Field Guides for donating the music used in this episode. Listen here to Field Guides’ album Boo, Forever.

PEN/Faulkner Presents: Howard Jacobson


PEN/Faulkner Presents Howard Jacobson

In Conjunction with the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Wonder of Will and with Hogarth Shakespeare

Monday, March 14th, 2016  |  7:30 PM
Purchase a single ticket for $15

Folger Shakespeare Library – Elizabethan Theatre
201 East Capitol Street SE
Washington, DC 20003 


The Wonder of Will is the Folger Shakespeare Library’s 2016 celebration of Shakespeare and his extraordinary legacy through special events, exhibitions, performances, and more—online, at the Folger, and across the United States.

The Hogarth Shakespeare series is a major international project in which some of today’s bestselling and most celebrated writers reimagine Shakespeare’s plays as contemporary novels. The books will be true to the spirit of the original plays, while giving authors an exciting opportunity to do something new.

Award-winning novelist and critic Howard Jacobson, best known for his prizewinning tragi-comic novels, will be the third novelist to publish in the Hogarth Shakespeare series, following Jeannette Winterson and Anne Tyler. He has chosen one of Shakespeare’s most controversial plays – The Merchant of Venice. Jacobson comments:

“For an English novelist Shakespeare is where it all begins. For an English novelist who also happens to be Jewish The Merchant of Venice is where it all snarls up. ‘Who is the merchant and who is the Jew?’ Portia wanted to know.  Four hundred years later, the question needs to be reframed: ‘Who is the hero of this play and who is the villain?’ And if Shylock is the villain, why did Shakespeare choose to make him so?

Only a fool would think he has anything to add to Shakespeare.  But Shakespeare probably never met a Jew, the Holocaust had not yet happened, and anti-Semitism didn’t have a name. Can one tell the same story today, when every reference carries a different charge? There’s the challenge. I quake before it.”

Episode 47 – SPARK: The 27th Annual PEN/Faulkner Celebration

gala group 2015

Back row, from left: Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Elliot Ackerman, Molly Antopol, Justin Taylor, T. Geronimo Johnson, and Marlon James. Front row, from left: Kseniya Melnik, Kirstin Valdez Quade, Susan Coll, Julie Otsuka, Jocelyn Reyes, and Celia Caldwell. Photo credit: James Brantley. 

Episode 47 brings you the 27th anniversary of the PEN/Faulkner Celebration, which was held on October 5th, 2015, at 6:30 p.m. The Gala celebrates and supports the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and PEN/Faulkner’s Writers in Schools program. Twelve authors joined Master of Ceremonies Calvin Trillin at the Folger Elizabethan Theatre to explore the theme of Spark through original compositions written for the occasion. The event included our high school essay contest awards winners Celia Caldwell and Jocelyn Reyes, who read their prize-winning essays from the Folger stage alongside our other guest writers.

The episode features readings by Elliot Ackerman, Molly Antopol, Celia CaldwellSusan Coll, Marlon James, T. Geronimo Johnson, Kseniya Melnik, Dolen Perkins-ValdezKirstin Valdez Quade, Jocelyn Reyes, and Justin Taylor. Novelist Julie Otsuka read as well, but could not be featured on this podcast. Author and humorist Calvin Trillin served as the Master of Ceremonies.

Thank you to Benedict Kupstas and Field Guides for donating the music used in this episode. Listen here to Field Guides’ album Boo, Forever.

International Writing Program Spotlight Reading November 5th

Logo of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa

Join PEN/Faulkner, the Library of Congress, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program (IWP) for a spotlight reading with four of this year’s IWP residents!

Residents Nael Eltoukhy (Egypt), Harris Khalique (Pakistan), Birgül Oğuz (Turkey) and Margarita Mateo Palmer (Cuba) read selections of their work and participate in a moderated discussion with Christopher Merrill, director of the International Writing Program. This event is free and open to the public.

Thursday, November 5th
4:00 – 5:30 PM
Mumford Room
James Madison Building, 6th Floor
Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue, SE—Washington, DC



The International Writing Program is one of the most respected international writers’ organizations in the world. Founded by Paul Engle and Hualing Nieh-Engle in 1967, the IWP has hosted over 1,400 writers from 140 countries and counts among its distinguished alumni two Nobel Prize winners (Orhan Pamuk and Mo Yan). IWP residents come to the states to write, of course, but also to engage in the literary culture of Iowa City (a UNESCO-designated City of Literature), to share their work and culture with others, and to learn more about American letters and university life.


November 17th: Jeff Richards at Hill Center


Hill Center & PEN/Faulkner Present:
Jeff Richards in conversation with Scott Berg
Tuesday, November 17th at 7 p.m.

Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital
921 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20003

Reserve Your Seat

The second 2015-2016 event of the Hill Center & PEN/Faulkner Literary Reading Series features local short story writer, novelist, and poet Jeff Richards in conversation with historian and nonfiction writer Scott Berg.


Open Country is a tightly woven novel-in-stories that begins and ends at the Ohio River, which divided Union from Confederacy in the Civil War. Richards takes on the war and all its bloodshed from the perspective of the average soldier, and that soldier’s family waiting at home. The novel is completely character-driven, with its characters’ fates closely intertwined. Richards’ eighteen stories range from Morgan’s Raids in Kentucky to the Fall of Richmond, but the soldiers he writes about see the war not as grand strategy but as death and destruction in painful, immediate detail.


Jeff-Richards-Photo-700x632Jeff Richards’ fiction, essays, and cowboy poetry have appeared in over 30 publications including Prick of the Spindle, The Broadkill Review, Pinch, New South, Gargoyle, and Southern Humanities Review and four anthologies such as Tales Out of School (Beacon Press). He was the fiction editor and board member of the washington review, a college teacher for many years principally at George Washington University and has also taught at the high school and elementary level. He is a native of Washington, D.C. and presently lives in Takoma Park, Maryland with his wife and two dogs.  He is collecting his published stories under the title Heart of Stone and finishing Lady Killer, a thriller about a murder in a babysitting co-op in Takoma Park.


ScottPhotoScott W. Berg is the acclaimed author of 38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow, and the Frontier’s End (2012) and Grand Avenues: The Story of Pierre Charles L’Enfant, the French Visionary Who Designed Washington, D.C. (2007). Born and raised in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, Scott received a BA in Architecture from the University of Minnesota, an MA in English from Miami University of Ohio, and an MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University, where he now teaches nonfiction writing and literature. Scott lives in Reston, Virginia with his wife and two sons.

March 21st: Mitchell S. Jackson and Leslie Jamison


I Feel Your Pain: An Evening with Mitchell S. Jackson and Leslie Jamison

Moderated by Richard McCann

Monday, March 21st, 2016  |  7:30 PM
Purchase a single ticket for $15

Folger Shakespeare Library – Elizabethan Theatre
201 East Capitol Street SE
Washington, DC 20003 


Mitchell S. Jackson’s novel The Residue Years, the winner of the Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, is based on his own coming-of-age, in a Portland, Oregon, neighborhood harrowed by the crack cocaine epidemic. Leslie Jamison’s widely-lauded essay collection The Empathy Exams starts with her own memories of working as a model patient for medical students and goes on to explore how we perceive other people’s pain. Both writers investigate the extremes of experience – their own and others’ – in dazzling fiction and essays.


Mitchell S. Jackson is the author of Oversoul: Stories and Essays and the novel The Residue Years, which was a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction, and the winner of the 2014 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. He teaches writing at New York University.

“Jackson’s prose has a spoken-word cadence, the language flying off the page with percussive energy… There is warmth and wit, and a hard-won wisdom about the intersection of race and poverty in America.”

– Roxane Gay, The New York Times


Jamison - The Empathy Exams


Leslie Jamison is the author of the novel The Gin Closet and the essay collection The Empathy Exams. She is a columnist for The New York Times Book Review, and her work has appeared in magazines and journals such as Harper’s, the Oxford American, and The Believer. She lives in Brooklyn.

“Her lush, erudite collection, The Empathy Exams, …is precisely about searching for sympathy with and understanding of others, struggling to see the world through a lens less narrow than the self.”

– Lisa Zeidner, The Washington Post