New York City, March 17, 2010—PEN American Center, the largest branch of the world’s oldest literary and human rights organization, announced yesterday the reelection of Kwame Anthony Appiah, the scholar, author, and critic, to another year as its president. “It’s been a very exciting year for PEN,” Appiah said. “We searched for and found a great new Executive Director, Steve Isenberg; we worked hard and in new ways to support Liu Xiaobo and other writers in prison around the world; and we created another acclaimed and well attended World Voices Festival.”

Also reelected were Laurence J. Kirshbaum, founder of LJK Literary Management, as Executive Vice President; Jessica Hagedorn, novelist and playwright, as Vice President; Maria B. Campbell, founder and director of an international literary scouting agency, as Treasurer; and Roxana Robinson, the novelist, as Secretary. Victoria Redel, novelist and poet, was newly elected to Vice President, taking the place of novelist A.M. Homes, whose term on the board was up.

Presidents of PEN traditionally serve two terms of one year each. In his second year, Appiah hopes to expand PEN’s campaigns to protect freedom of expression, win new financial support, and increase the visibility of PEN in the literary world and beyond. He also hopes to lead PEN, he said, “through a strategic review of all we do, so that PEN is even more ready for the challenges ahead. It’s crucial in the current funding climate to make sure that we are putting our limited resources to the best possible use. I believe that if we do that we’ll be able to continue to grow our support, both human and financial.”

Returning to PEN’s board of trustees along with Appiah are Ron Chernow, Beth Gutcheon, Jhumpa Lahiri, Joanne Leedom-Ackerman, Jaime Manrique, Claudia Menza, Michael F. Moore, Susanna Reich, Esmeralda Santiago, John Oakes, Walter Pozen, Hamilton Robinson, Jr., Elissa Schappell, Annette Tapert, Lynne Tillman, Monique Truong, and Danielle Truscott. Wendy Gimbel and Hannah Pakula were newly elected to the board.

Kwame Anthony Appiah grew up in Ghana and in England. He is the author of Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, among many other books—including three mystery novels and several works in philosophy and cultural studies—and he co-edited the Dictionary of Global Culture and Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African American Experience. A professor of philosophy at Princeton, Appiah is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He chairs the Board of the American Council of Learned Societies and he chaired PEN’s Freedom to Write Committee from 1996 to 2003. He is currently working on two books, one about honor, and the other about the idea of the West.

PEN American Center is the United States branch of International PEN, which was founded in 1921 as a response to the ethnic and national divisions that culminated in the First World War. Since its founding, PEN has worked to promote international understanding through the promotion of literature and the defense of free expression. PEN American Center was founded in 1922 and is the largest of the 144 PEN centers in 102 countries that constitute International PEN. Its distinguished members carry on the contributions and achievements of such past members as W.H. Auden, James Baldwin, Willa Cather, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, Thomas Mann, Arthur Miller, Marianne Moore, Eugene O’Neill, Susan Sontag, and John Steinbeck. Recent presidents include Francine Prose, Ron Chernow, and Salman Rushdie.

Jessica Rotondi, (212) 334-1660 ext. 103, jessica@pen.org
David Haglund, (212) 334-1660 ext. 115, david@pen.org