2021 PEN/Faulkner Award Celebration

This event took place on Monday, May 10, 2021 at 8 pm ET.


LeVar Burton, Literary Champion
Deesha Philyaw, Winner
Matthew Salesses, Finalist
Rufi Thorpe, Finalist
Robin Wasserman, Finalist
Steve Wiegenstein, Finalist


Charles Finch, 2021 Judge
Bernice L. McFadden, 2021 Judge
Alexi Zentner, 2021 Judge
Stephen King
Francine Prose
Angie Thomas
Luis Alberto Urrea
Jason Reynolds


Ron Charles, Master of Ceremonies
Jessica Hansen, Narration
Really Useful Media, Event Production


The Diana Davis Spencer Foundation

Literary Lions
The Honorable Ann Brown
Mary & Robert Haft
Malcolm & Virginia O’Hagan
Katherine Field Stephen & Andrew Stephen

Lisa Barry & James Gale
Katherine & David Bradley
Wm. Randall Cone
Cathie & John Estey
Elizabeth & Michael Galvin
The Garcia Family Spotlight Foundation
Renée K. & Stephen Gardner
Kay Kendall & Jack Davies
Willee & Finlay Lewis
Politics & Prose
Doug & Gabriela Smith


Marie Arana
Susan Coll & Paul Goldberg
Judy Scott Feldman
Patricia V. Fettman & Jonathan Ginsburg
Kate & Robert Giaimo/Silver Diner & SILVER
Patricia Griffith
Hachette Book Group
Little A
Sophia McCrocklin & William Isaacson
Tracy & Greg McGillivary
Old Town Books
Maureen Orth
Jane Evans Ramsay
Simon & Schuster
West Virginia University


Emily & Antoine van Agtmael
Louis Bayard
Lauren Francis-Sharma
Ann Friedman
Susan Ginsburg
Jay Hammer
Joseph Hassett
Wendy Benchley & John Jeppson
Emma Kortum
Julie Langsdorf
Eric Larsen
Margaret Rood Lenzner
Darina C. McKelvie
Mary Mochary
Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Judy Pomeranz
Nancy & Simon Sidamon-Eristoff

2019 Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

“Winning the PEN/Faulkner Award at such a delicate and trying juncture in our nation’s troubled history is an honor I am infinitely grateful to carry.”
– Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, Author of Call Me Zebra

2020 Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

“I feel deeply honored, grateful, and overwhelmed to receive this news.”

– Chloe Arijdis, Author of Sea Monsters

Our 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award Winner and Finalists

Radiant Fugitives

Radiant Fugitives

Finalist for the 2022 PEN/Faulkner Award for FictionNawaaz Ahmed was born in Tamil Nadu, India. Before turning to writing, he was a computer scientist, researching search algorithms for Yahoo. He holds an MFA from University of Michigan–Ann Arbor and is the winner of...

The President and the Frog

The President and the Frog

Finalist for the 2022 PEN/Faulkner Award for FictionCarolina de Robertis is the author of five novels, including Cantoras, winner of both a Stonewall Book Award and a Reading Women Award, and a finalist for both the Kirkus Prize and a Lambda Literary Award; it was...

Dear Miss Metropolitan

Dear Miss Metropolitan

Finalist for the 2022 PEN/Faulkner Award for FictionCarolyn Ferrell is the author of the short-story collection Don’t Erase Me, which received the Art Seidenbaum Award of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize program, the John C. Zacharis Award given by Ploughshares, and...

How Beautiful We Were

How Beautiful We Were

Finalist for the 2022 PEN/Faulkner Award for FictionImbolo Mbue is the author of the New York Times bestseller Behold the Dreamers, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and was an Oprah’s Book Club selection. The novel has been translated into eleven...

Louise Erdrich

Louise Erdrich

Louise Erdrich is the author of sixteen novels, volumes of poetry, children's books, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her fiction has won the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award (twice), the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and has been a...


LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton is an actor, director, educator, and cofounder of the award-winning Skybrary app; former host and executive producer of PBS’s Reading Rainbow, and a lifelong children’s literacy advocate. He hosts his own podcast, LeVar Burton Reads, sharing the best short fiction and handpicked by the best voice in podcasting. LeVar also has a new YouTube series, This Is My Story, which highlights racism in America. During the COVID-19 lockdown, TwitterLive hosted livestream short story readings presented by LeVar to millions of his fans and avid readers. LeVar starred as Kunta Kinte in the acclaimed mini-series Roots. LeVar also starred as Lt. Commander Geordi LaForge in the Star Trek: The Next Generation television series and in feature films. 

Learn more about LeVar.


Ron Charles

Ron Charles writes about books and publishing for The Washington Post. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest. Before moving to the District, he edited the books section of the Christian Science Monitor in Boston. His wife is an English teacher and the cinematographer of their satirical series, “The Totally Hip Video Book Review.” His awards include the Louis Shores Award for reviewing from the American Library Association, the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle, and First Place for Arts & Entertainment Commentary from the Society for Features Journalism in 2011. He was one of three jurors for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction.  

Ron Charles

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