PEN America Cancels Literary Awards Ceremony Amid Gaza War Fallout

The free expression group PEN America has canceled its 2024 literary awards ceremony following months of escalating protests over the organization’s response to the war in Gaza, which has been criticized as overly sympathetic to Israel and led nearly half of the prize nominees to withdraw.

The event was set to take place on April 29 at Town Hall in Manhattan. But in a news release on Monday, the group announced that although the prizes would still be conferred, the ceremony would not take place.

“We greatly respect that writers have followed their consciences, whether they chose to remain as nominees in their respective categories or not,” the group’s chief officer for literary programming, Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf, said in the release.

“We regret that this unprecedented situation has taken away the spotlight from the extraordinary work selected by esteemed, insightful and hard-working judges across all categories. As an organization dedicated to freedom of expression and writers, our commitment to recognizing and honoring outstanding authors and the literary community is steadfast.”

In recent months, PEN America has faced intensifying public criticism of its response to the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks on Israel, which killed roughly 1,200 people, according to Israeli authorities, and Israel’s military response in Gaza, which has left about 34,000 people dead, according to health officials there.

In a series of open letters, writers have demanded that PEN America support an immediate cease-fire, as its global parent organization, PEN International, and other national chapters have done.

Back to top button