Literary Conversations

Provocative Civil Discourse Inspired and Led by Writers

 

Our Literary Conversations bring together highly-acclaimed writers to discuss the urgent issues that surround their work and let fiction serve as a springboard for civil discourse. Over the past 35+ years, our literary programs have featured authors reading from their work and engaging in thrilling, thought-provoking conversations.

Authors who have joined us over the years have included:
Eudora Welty, Robert Stone, Ken Kesey, Amy Tan, Louise Erdrich, Tayari Jones, Ann Patchett, Jonathan Franzen, Joan Didion, Michael Chabon, Luis Alberto Urrea, Jennifer Egan, Susan Choi, Isabel Allende, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Ta-Nehisi Coates, T.C. Boyle, Roxane Gay, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, and Emma Donoghue, among many others.

More Literary Conversations

LEAVING HOME, FINDING HOME

LEAVING HOME, FINDING HOME

LITERARY CONVERSATIONSAngie Cruz, Jonathan Escoffery, and Sarah Thankam Mathews have each written electrifying works of fiction centering the lives of immigrants. In a conversation with moderator Jung Yun, they explored themes of family, community, intersecting...

LITERATURE ON SCREEN

LITERATURE ON SCREEN

PEN/Faulkner’s Literature on Screen series highlights writers whose work has been reimagined as a film or TV show. Our latest installment presents Louis Bayard’s The Pale Blue Eye, a vibrant historical mystery with a young Edgar Allan Poe at its center that was adapted into a 2022 Netflix film directed by Scott Cooper. The author and director will be joined by moderator Clay Smith, the Literary Director of the Library of Congress, in a conversation exploring storytelling, craft, and the creative process. The event will feature a reading, clips from the film, and an audience Q&A.

COLLABORATION

COLLABORATION

DATE | March 23, 2023 at 7 pm ET
LOCATION | Online Event

Writing a novel can be a lonely endeavor. Some authors find solace and inspiration in collaboration—partnering with a writer who brings a new perspective, a wealth of experiences, and different strengths. Join two pairs of novelists, Christine Pride and Jo Piazza (We Are Not Like Them) and Shaunna J. Edwards and Alyson Richman (The Thread Collectors), in conversation with author and critic Martha Anne Toll about the processes, tensions, and rewards of collaboration.

MEMOIR

MEMOIR

LITERARY CONVERSATIONSMemoirs open windows into lives, granting readers access to deeply personal narratives. Whether they reflect our own experiences or challenge us to engage with new ones, the best memoirs enhance and complicate our understanding of the world. Join...

VOICES OF DC

VOICES OF DC

LITERARY CONVERSATIONSStorytellers have long been inspired by our city's rich past and present, elevating the voices of its citizens, exploring its landmarks and tucked-away corners, and imagining its future. We invite residents of DC to join three fantastic...

GUNS

GUNS

LITERARY CONVERSATIONSOur national conversation about guns is dominated by polarizing rhetoric. In literature, however, we find nuance and complex human stories about the impact of gun violence on American life. To explore those stories, please join us for GUNS, a...

CHOICE

CHOICE

Reproductive choice is the third rail of American politics, but novelists have the power to explore the subject with an openness and curiosity so often missing from the news cycle. Join three acclaimed writers—R.O. Kwon, Joanne Ramos, and Leni Zumas—in a conversation led by moderator Elisa Albert about representations of choice, access, contraception, personal autonomy, and abortion in their work on Wednesday, September 14, at 7 pm ET.

SPOKEN WORDS

SPOKEN WORDS

On April 14, 2022 we engaged with three critically acclaimed poets and spoken word artists Fatimah Asghar, Olivia Gatwood, Danez Smith, and moderator Nate Marshall.

This Literary Conversation included readings and performances by our featured authors and will be followed by a live Q&A with the audience. Live captioning will also be available for this event.

TRANSitional Writing

TRANSitional Writing

DATE | March 23, 2022 at 7:00 PM
LOCATION | Online Event

Join three acclaimed writers—Zeyn Joukhadar, Torrey Peters, and Neon Yang—in a conversation moderated by activist and author P. Carl about their books and trans representation in contemporary literature.

STORIED HISTORY

STORIED HISTORY

DATE | February 28, 2022 at 7:00 PM
LOCATION | Online Event

History isn’t fixed. It’s written and rewritten all the time as historians adopt contemporary perspectives on past events. Writers of historical fiction incorporate those new perspectives into their work, too, revealing new ideas and stories. Join three acclaimed historical novelists—Kaitlyn Greenidge, Jonathan Lee, and Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai—in a conversation moderated by author and PEN/Faulkner board member Bethanne Patrick about bringing fresh artistry to accurate portrayals of history.

Literary Conversations

Provocative Civil Discourse Inspired and Led by Writers

 

Leaving Home, Finding Home

Leaving Home, Finding Home

Angie Cruz, Jonathan Escoffery, and Sarah Thankam Mathews have each written electrifying works of fiction centering the lives of immigrants. In a conversation with moderator Jung Yun, they will explore themes of family, community, intersecting identities, and survival. Join in as they discuss harnessing voice, form, and setting to ground their vibrant, singular stories.

read more

More Literary Conversations

LITERATURE ON SCREEN

LITERATURE ON SCREEN

PEN/Faulkner’s Literature on Screen series highlights writers whose work has been reimagined as a film or TV show. Our latest installment presents Louis Bayard’s The Pale Blue Eye, a vibrant historical mystery with a young Edgar Allan Poe at its center that was adapted into a 2022 Netflix film directed by Scott Cooper. The author and director will be joined by moderator Clay Smith, the Literary Director of the Library of Congress, in a conversation exploring storytelling, craft, and the creative process. The event will feature a reading, clips from the film, and an audience Q&A.

COLLABORATION

COLLABORATION

DATE | March 23, 2023 at 7 pm ET
LOCATION | Online Event

Writing a novel can be a lonely endeavor. Some authors find solace and inspiration in collaboration—partnering with a writer who brings a new perspective, a wealth of experiences, and different strengths. Join two pairs of novelists, Christine Pride and Jo Piazza (We Are Not Like Them) and Shaunna J. Edwards and Alyson Richman (The Thread Collectors), in conversation with author and critic Martha Anne Toll about the processes, tensions, and rewards of collaboration.

MEMOIR

MEMOIR

LITERARY CONVERSATIONSMemoirs open windows into lives, granting readers access to deeply personal narratives. Whether they reflect our own experiences or challenge us to engage with new ones, the best memoirs enhance and complicate our understanding of the world. Join...

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