Jennifer Egan Champions Freedom of Expression as the New President of PEN America

Written by Katie Martinez

According to Publishers Weekly, PEN America recently announced that Pulitzer-Prize-winning writer Jennifer Egan will be the new president of the organization. Egan will be taking over the position after Andrew Solomon, who has served as the organization’s president for the past three years.

For more than nine decades, PEN America, as a center for PEN International, has advocated for and protected the writer’s freedom of expression; it consists of impressive networks of novelists, editors, publishers, and many others. Working at the “intersection of literature and human rights,” PEN centers work to support persecuted writers and promote literary culture through programs such as their Free Expression Program, the Prison Writing Program, and others like the PEN Writer’s Fund, which provides financial assistance for professionally published writers and editors who need it.

Egan has been a part of the organization since 2013 and has expressed appreciation for the opportunity and a great sense of dedication to championing the importance of freedom of expression, especially in today’s political climate. In a statement she gave to the Associated Press, Egan expressed the urgency of PEN America’s work today as “censorship and suppression have proved more alive” under Trump’s presidency.

Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad—formatted as a collection of short stories that intertwine with each other through the common motif of rock’n’roll—was one of those books that reinvigorated my own love of storytelling and my sympathy for self-destructive characters as they desperately search for redemption. Although I have yet to read Egan’s most recent novel, Manhattan Beach, if her success in this role is even half that of her writing ability, then the future is extremely bright for PEN America and our freedom to write and publish what we please.

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