Novelist Jennifer Egan named new president of PEN America

FILE - In this Sept. 28, 2016 file photo, author Jennifer Egan poses for a portrait at 26th Annual Literary Awards Festival in Beverly Hills, Calif. Egan has been named the new president of PEN America. (Photo by Casey Curry/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK - Jennifer Egan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, has been named the new president of PEN America.

PEN told The Associated Press on Wednesday night that Egan will succeed fellow author Andrew Solomon, who served three years as president of the literary and human rights organization.

"I've been a member of PEN America since the early 1990's, and a board member since 2013, having always felt privileged to write in a country where the notion of being censored, or suppressed, or punished for one's words, was an abstraction," Egan wrote in a statement to the AP. "In the Trump presidency, censorship and suppression have proved more alive in America than many of us had believed possible — through the ostracization, ridicule and devaluation of expressed dissent. PEN America has spent decades defending free expression by calling out the tactics of repressive regimes, and is uniquely equipped to fight these practices not only abroad, but at home. Our work has never felt more urgent, and I'm honoured to serve as PEN America's new president."

Egan, 55, is known for such works as "A Visit from the Goon Squad" and last year's "Manhattan Beach."

She takes over as president during a time of change for PEN, which is merging with the California-based PEN Center USA.

Overall, PEN America has thousands of members and has offices in New York, Washington and Los Angeles. Besides speaking out for endangered writers worldwide, PEN hands out a wide range of awards and hosts an annual gala in May, with this year's honorees including Stephen King and two imprisoned Myanmar reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.


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