2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Virtual Celebration Sponsorship

Monday, May 10, 2021 | 8 pm ET

The 41st Annual Celebration of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction honored this year’s distinguished books and authors, along with our inaugural PEN/Faulkner Literary Champion. This exquisite literary evening featured original readings by our PEN/Faulkner Award winner and four finalists; commendations by our three judges; a presentation by LeVar Burton, including a special tribute by Mrs. Laura Bush; and guest appearances by several notable writers, including Stephen King, Angie Thomas, Luis Alberto Urrea, Francine Prose, and Jason Reynolds.

41ST ANNUAL AWARD CELEBRATION

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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.

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

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

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

CELEBRATION TEAM

Muses, cont’d
Kay Kendall & Jack Davies
Willee & Finlay Lewis
Politics & Prose
Doug & Gabriela Smith

Patrons
Anonymous
Marie Arana
Susan Coll & Paul Goldberg
Judy Scott Feldman
Patricia V. Fettmann & 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

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 Book of Goose

The Book of Goose

2023 PEN/Faulkner Award WinnerYiyun Li is the author of several works of fiction—Must I Go, Where Reasons End, Kinder Than Solitude, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, The Vagrants, and Gold Boy, Emerald Girl—and the memoir Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in...

If I Survive You

If I Survive You

2023 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction FinalistJonathan Escoffery is the recipient of the 2020 Plimpton Prize for Fiction, a 2020 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, and the 2020 ASME Award for Fiction. His fiction has appeared in The Paris Review,...

Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm

Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm

2023 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction FinalistLaura Warrell is a contributor to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Tin House Writers’ Workshop, and is a graduate of the creative writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work has appeared in HuffPost,...

The Islands

The Islands

2023 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction FinalistDionne Irving is originally from Toronto, Ontario. She is the author of THE ISLANDS (Catapult) and QUINT (7.13 Books)  She currently teaches in the Creative Writing Program and the Initiative on Race and Resilience at the...

Fruiting Bodies

Fruiting Bodies

2023 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction FinalistKathryn Harlan received an MFA from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she now teaches writing. She was the recipient of the 2019 August Derleth Graduate Creative Writing Prize. Her work has appeared in the...

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