Spark: The 27th Annual PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Celebration


Spark: The 27th Annual PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Celebration
Monday, October 5th, 2015  |  6:30 PM

On Monday, Oct. 5th, 2015, PEN/Faulkner will hold its 27th Annual PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Celebration at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. This annual event supports the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and our Writers in Schools programming, and features some of today’s finest authors reading works composed especially for the occasion.

This year, acclaimed authors Elliot Ackerman, Molly Antopol, Susan Coll, Marlon James, T. Geronimo Johnson, Kseniya Melnik, Julie Otsuka, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Justin Taylor, Kirstin Valdez Quade and Master of Ceremonies Calvin Trillin will take to the Folger’s stage to present work written on the theme of Spark.

Cocktails begin at 6:30 p.m., and the reading program starts at 7:30 p.m. The program will be followed by a dinner reception with chef stations featuring food prepared by local chefs. There will be lounge areas as well as tables available for pre-purchase.

Please note that this is no longer a seated event, and that it is no longer black tie. 

Individual tickets to the event are $500. More information can be attained and tickets purchased by calling the PEN/Faulkner office at 202-898-9063. Tickets are also available online.

You can also listen to readings from previous Gala celebrations as episodes of the PEN/Faulkner Podcast. Episode 21 comes from 2013’s “Renewal” Gala, and Episode 34 features last fall’s Gala celebrating the theme of “Danger.”

Elizabeth Gutting, PEN/Faulkner’s Newest Staffer, on Her First WinS Visit

McKinley Tech High School

McKinley Technology High School – Washington, DC

One month ago, on Monday, October 7th, esteemed writers from all over the country came to D.C. to read at the PEN/Faulkner 25th Annual Gala—as well as to visit local schools to discuss their books. Among the writers was Roy Scranton, who visited McKinley Tech to talk about Fire and Forget, a collection of war stories from Iraq and Afghanistan that he and another writer, Matt Gallagher, edited together. Scranton served in the U.S. Army from 2002 to 2006, including fourteen months in Baghdad, and spoke to students about writing, putting together a story collection, and what it was like to be a soldier in Iraq.

He began by reading from his story in Fire and Forget, acting out dialogue between soldiers and Iraqis with gusto. A storm raged outside, making the moment all the more dramatic. Students leaned in and applauded him when he finished, and then had a slew of sharp and unafraid questions. When one asked if a soldier could really “fire and forget,” Roy shook his head, and replied candidly. “As a solder, you go overseas and fight—and it’s impossible to forget. We wanted the title of this collection to have a certain irony to reflect that.”

Fire & Forget Book JacketHe went on to discuss the order of the stories—chosen carefully, like a well thought out “mix CD or playlist,” where each story is in conversation with the others, drawing on different aspects of the two wars. One student asked Roy to talk about what inspired him to write and collect stories about war. Roy responded that while both Iraq and Afghanistan played a hugely important role in the last 10 years of this country, very few people seem to understand what was going on in these countries while soldiers fought. The collection, he said, aimed to help translate the experience he and others had overseas.

One student commented that reading the stories had raised this question in her mind: Does war make people more human, or does it make people inhumane? What did he think? 

Scranton paused to reflect on this thoughtful question. War is such an extreme thing, he began, and so it can bring out the best and the worst in a person; overall, though, it tends to brutalize people. He went on to say that war can make a person numb to others’ suffering—“because you just have to get through it.” He made the point that things that are horrific in a civilian zone become normal in a war zone. But then, he said, you also have to consider that humans are the ones making war—and so there are lessons to learn about what it means to be human from the way we start and wage wars.

To conclude, one student asked Scranton: how did it feel to put the book together?

It was difficult, he said, to go back over some of those experiences, which reminded him of his own life as a soldier. And he’d found that with his own writing, it often felt odd to use personal memories to create fiction, mentioning that sometimes now it was hard for him to discern between his real memories and the ones that he’d altered for fiction.

After his visit ended, students lingered to sign books and talk with him. As we left the school, he marveled at how brave the students were with their questions – commenting that few readings he’d given elicited such an intense discussion.

I, too, was impressed by the depth and intensity of the questions, which clearly came from students who read closely and thought critically. As a new member of the PEN/Faulkner staff, this was my first WinS visit —and I have to say, it exceeded even my highest of expectations. I can’t wait for more!

— Elizabeth Gutting
Office Manager
PEN/Faulkner Foundation




2013 PEN/Faulkner Foundation Gala: “Renewal”


The PEN/Faulkner Foundation’s 25th Anniversary Gala

On Monday, October 7th at 6:30 p.m., the PEN/Faulkner Foundation will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its annual gala, celebrating and supporting the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and PEN/Faulkner’s Writers in Schools program. Eleven authors will join Master of Ceremonies Calvin Trillin at the Folger Elizabethan Theatre to explore the theme of Renewal through original compositions written for the occasion. Tickets for this black-tie event are $500 and all proceeds support the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and our growing Writers in Schools programming in Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD. 



The 25th Anniversary Gala Celebration
to benefit the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and Writers In Schools

featuring readings by

Christopher Castellani    Matt Gallagher & Roy Scranton    Yiyun Li
Anthony Marra    George Pelecanos    Mona Simpson    Christopher Tilghman
Meg Wolitzer    Tiphanie Yanique    Mary Kay Zuravleff
Calvin Trillin, Master of Ceremonies


6:30 p.m. Reception  |   7:30 p.m. Readings  |  8:30 p.m. Seated Dinner


Monday, October 7, 2013
Folger Shakespeare Library
201 East Capitol Street, S.E.
Washington, D.C.


For Tickets & Information, Please call Lisa Jourdan at Campbell Peachey & Associates at 202-636-8740 



Senator Thad Cochran     Mary Haft     Senator Patrick Leahy     Susan Richards Shreve

Meena and Liaquat Ahamed
James Alefantis
Michael F. Bennet
Katherine and David Bradley
Linda Burgess and William R. Dunlap
Gahl Burt and Martin Indyk
Jane Rosenthal Cafritz
Connie Carter
Darryl Carter
Leslie and Andrew Cockburn
Lisa and Wm. Randall Cone
April McClain Delaney
and Representative John Delaney
Jean-Marie and Raul Fernandez
Ginny Grenham and Paul Zevnick
Elisabeth Griffith
Robert Haft
Barbara Harrison
Meg and John Hauge
Kay Kendall and Jack Davies
Judy and Peter Kovler
Marcelle Leahy
Kate and Jim Lehrer
Aimee and Robert Lehrman
Mirella and Dani Levinas
Carol Ludwig
Kathleen and Chris Matthews
Senator Barbara A. Mikulski
Maureen Orth
Alison and William C. Paley
Gail Kern Paster
Sylvia Ripley and Christopher Addison
Lois Romano
and The Honorable Sven Erik Holmes
Hattie Ruttenberg and Jonathan Molot
Senator Charles E. Schumer
Timothy Seldes
Bobbi and Dean Smith
Elizabeth and George Stevens. Jr.
Mariella and Michael Trager
Septime Webre