The PEN/Faulkner Podcast Series

Welcome to the home of the PEN/Faulkner Podcast, a monthly podcast showcasing author events from our annual Reading Series, as well as occasional clips from our archives.

The PEN/Faulkner Podcast series is made possible by the generous support of, and is co-sponsored by the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Click on the  links below to hear or download the podcast series.


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Episode 28: Phil Klay in Conversation with Jennifer Vanderbes

Klay (left) and Vanderbes (right) - black and white author photos

Episode 28 features a reading by Phil Klay, author of the story collection Redeployment, in conversation with novelist Jennifer Vanderbes, which took place at Hill Center at Old Naval Hospital in Washington, DC on March 14, 2014.

Phil Klay is a graduate of Dartmouth College and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in Iraq’s Anbar Province from January 2007 to February 2008 as a Public Affairs Officer. After being discharged he went to Hunter College and received an MFA. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Granta, Newsweek, the Daily Beast, the New York Daily News, Tin House, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012. Redeployment is his first book.

Jennifer Vanderbes is the author of the acclaimed novels Easter Island, Strangers at the Feast and, most recently, the The Secret of Raven Point which is set during World War II and explores moral ambiguities of war. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Atlantic.


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Episode 27: Ayana Mathis & Justin Torres in conversation with Elliott Holt

Mathis (left), Torres (center), Holt (right)

Episode 27 features our Feb. 24th, 2014 reading “Survival Instincts: First-time Novelists on the Ties That Bind” featuring first-time novelists Ayana Mathis and Justin Torres. They were joined onstage at the Folger Shakespeare Library by fellow first-time novelist Elliott Holt, who moderated discussion between Mathis and Torres. 

Ayana Mathis is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is a recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, her first novel and a New York Times Bestseller, was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as the second selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. She lives and writes in Brooklyn, NY.

Justin Torres is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a recent Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford, and a recent fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s, Granta, Tin House, and Glimmer Train. Among many other things, he has worked as a farmhand, a dog walker, a creative writing teacher, and a bookseller. He lives in Brooklyn, NY. 

Moderator Elliott Holt‘s short fiction and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Guernica, The Millions, the 2011 Pushcart Prize anthology, and elsewhere. Her first novel, You Are One of Them, was published in 2013 and was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Award for a first book.


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Episode 26: Blake Bailey, Ruth Franklin, and D.T. Max in conversation with Margaret Talbot

Blake Bailey, Ruth Franklin, D.T. Max, and Margaret Talbot

Episode 26 features our Feb. 4th, 2014 reading: “Whose Life Is It, Anyway? The Literary Biographer’s Craft,” featuring readings by Blake Bailey, Ruth Franklin, and D.T. Max, who were led in conversation by author and New Yorker Staff Writer Margaret Talbot. The event took place at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC.

Blake Bailey is author of A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates, Cheever: A Life, and, most recently, Farther & Wilder: The Lost Weekends and Literary Dreams of Charles Jackson. Bailey’s articles and reviews have appeared in Vanity Fair, Slate, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. He lives in Virginia with his wife and daughter.

Ruth Franklin is a book critic and a contributing editor at The New Republic. Her first book, A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction, was published by Oxford University Press last year. She is currently working on a biography of the American writer Shirley Jackson, to be published by Norton in 2016.

D.T. Max is a graduate of Harvard University and a staff writer at the New Yorker. He is the author of, Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace and The Family That Couldn’t Sleep: A Medical Mystery. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, their two young children, and a rescued beagle who came to them named Max.

Margaret Talbot (moderator) has been a staff writer at the New Yorker magazine since 2003 and was formerly a Contributing Writer for the New York Times magazine. She has also written for the New Republic, the Atlantic, and other publications, and has been a regular on the Slate Double X and New Yorker podcasts. Her first book, The Entertainer: Movies, Magic, and my Father’s Twentieth Century, recounts the story of her father’s (stage and screen actor Lyle Talbot) exceptionally long and varied career from 1931-1960.



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Episode 25: Molly McCloskey & Lisa Page

 McCloskey Page Hill Center Reading3

Episode 25 brings you an installment of the Hill Center PEN/Faulkner literary reading series that took place on January 29th, 2014. This collaboratively produced reading series takes place at Hill Center at Old Naval Hospital in Washington’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. The reading featured author Molly McCloskey in conversation with DC writer and PEN/Faulkner board member Lisa Page. 

Molly McCloskey is an American writer who has lived in Ireland since 1989. Her fiction has won the RTE Francis MacManus Award (1995) and the inaugural Fish Short Story Prize (1996). Her stories have been included in Faber & Faber’s Best New Irish Short Story anthologies. In 2009, another of her short stories, “This Isn’t Heaven” was selected by Richard Ford as one of the prize-winning stories in the 2009 Davy Byrne’s Irish Writing Award and was anthologized in Davy Byrne’s Stories. Her first work of non-fiction, a memoir concerning her brother Mike, who suffers from schizophrenia, is entitled Circles Around the Sun: In Search of a Lost Brother. It was named by The Sunday Times (UK) as its Memoir of the Year for 2011.

Lisa Page is Acting Director of Creative Writing at George Washington University and a freelance writer based in Washington, DC. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post Book WorldPlayboy,Washingtonian,Savoy and the Chicago Tribune among other publications. Her essays and short stories have appeared in the anthologies, Skin Deep: Black Women and White Women Write About RaceGravity Dancers, and Dream Me Home Safely. She is a regular guest on NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show Reader’s Review. She is a member of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation’s board of directors, and its former president.

You can can also watch a video of this event here



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Episode 24: 2013 PEN/Malamud Award Honoring George Saunders

George Saunders author photo with Malamud graphic

Episode 24 of the podcast features the 2013 PEN/Malamud Award Ceremony and Memorial Reading. Each December, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation and the Malamud Family work to identify a writer who had demonstrated excellence in the short story. The 2013 recipient of the Award was George Saunders, whose most recent collection of short fiction, Tenth of December, was published in January of 2013. This podcast features a reading by Saunders held at the Church of the Reformation here in Washington, DC on December 6, 2013, and was followed by the conferral of the 2013 PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story by Janna Malamud Smith.

George Saunders is the acclaimed author of several collections of short stories, including PastoraliaCivilWarLand in Bad DeclineIn Persuasion Nation, and Tenth of December, as well as a collection of essays and a book for children. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.

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