2021 PEN/Faulkner Award Celebration

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

HONOREES

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

SPECIAL GUESTS

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

OUR GRATITUDE

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

CELEBRATION TEAM

Luminaries
The Diana Davis Spencer Foundation

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

Muses
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

CELEBRATION TEAM

Patrons
Anonymous
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

FRIENDS

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 Winner & Finalists

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

WINNER OF the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for FictionThe Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores the raw and tender places where Black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good. The nine stories in this collection feature...

Scattered Lights

Scattered Lights

Finalist for the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for FictionThis collection of stories brings together a wide cast of characters, all connected to the Ozarks - natives and transplants, young and old, wicked and innocent, troubled and happy, God-haunted and just plain haunted....

Mother Daughter Widow Wife

Mother Daughter Widow Wife

Finalist for the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for FictionWendy Doe is the woman, found on a bus to Philadelphia, has no money, no ID, and no memory of who she is, where she was going, or what she might have done. She’s assigned a name and diagnosis by the state:...

The Knockout Queen

The Knockout Queen

Finalist for the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for FictionBunny Lampert is the princess of North Shore⁠—beautiful, tall, blond, with a rich real-estate-developer father. Michael⁠⁠—with a ponytail down his back and a septum piercing⁠—lives with his aunt in the cramped stucco...

Disappear Doppelgänger Disappear

Disappear Doppelgänger Disappear

Finalist for the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for FictionMatt Kim is pretty sure he’s disappearing. His girlfriend, Yumi, is less convinced. But then she runs into someone who looks exactly like her, and her doppelgänger turns out to have dated someone who looks exactly...

LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton

PEN/FAULKNER LITERARY CHAMPION

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.

OUR INAUGURAL PEN/FAULKNER LITERARY CHAMPION

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.

LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton

PEN/FAULKNER LITERARY CHAMPION

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.

MASTER OF CEREMONIES

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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