The PEN/Faulkner Award Celebration

Every year, we gather to celebrate our PEN/Faulkner Award winner and four finalists. Each celebration is an event to remember, a fabulous opportunity for contemprorary fiction readers, writers, and ethusiasts to come together in recognition of distiguished people who make up the current literary landscape. 

In 2020, on the occasion of its 40th anniversary, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation created a new literary distinction: the PEN/Faulkner Literary Champion. This commendation is presented in recognition of devoted literary advocacy and a commitment to inspiring new generations of readers and writers. The distinction is presented annually in May as part of the PEN/Faulkner Award Celebration.


On May 11, 2023, we held an exquisite literary evening at the newly renovated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library. We celebrated Yiyun Li, the 2023 PEN/Faulkner Award winner, along with the finalists Jonathan Escoffery, Kathryn Harlan, Dionne Irving, and Laura Warrell. We also recognized Terry Gross as the 2023 PEN/Faulkner Literary Champion.

The evening featured guest appearances from Ron Charles and Michel Martin, a cocktail hour, and a delicious dinner with a dessert bar.


On May 2, 2022, we hosted a virtual celebration. It included presentations from by our judges; original readings by the 2022 PEN/Faulkner Award winner, Rabih Alameddine, and four finalists, Nawaaz Ahmed, Carolina de Robertis, Carolyn Ferrell, and Imbolo Mbue; and an appearance by Oprah Winfrey, our 2022 PEN/Faulkner Literary Champion.

Maureen Corrigan, book critic for NPR’s Fresh Air, joined us as the Master of Ceremonies.


The 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award Celebration was held on May 10, 2021, and honored that year’s distinguished books and authors. Among them were Deesha Philyaw, the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award winner, and four finalists, Matthew Salesses, Rufi Thorpe, Robin Wasserman, and Steve Wiegenstein. The evening also included a presentation by our inaugural PEN/Faulkner Literary Champion, LeVar Burton.

Special guests Stephen KingFrancine ProseLuis Alberto UrreaAngie Thomas, and Jason Reynolds, among others, joined the 2021 virtual celebration.

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