PEN America Town Hall Meeting

December 13, 2022 - 7:00 to 9:00 pm ET
ABOUT: All are invited to attend a PEN America town hall meeting to be held at Penguin Random House headquarters, 1745 Broadway in NYC, "that will probe how entrenched habits and beliefs can be challenged to transform the publishing industry to achieve greater representation and success by diverse authors to meet the growing diversity of readers in the United States."
PEN America’s landmark October 2022 report, Reading Between the Lines: Race, Equity, and Book Publishing, detailed a Gordian knot of preconceptions, business practices, and perceptions that have conspired to keep book publishing overwhelmingly white both in terms of staff and leadership as well as books published. Decades of efforts including hiring pushes, new imprints and hefty investments have seemed to come and go, with limited lasting progress to show. This conversation will probe a level deeper, asking how some of the most entrenched commercial, cultural and organizational habits and beliefs can be challenged and transformed to bring about a publishing industry and literary canon that better reflects American society in all of its complexity.
Questions that will be raised include:
  • Do publishers have a moral and social obligation to steward the making of an “American Archive” and literary canon that represent the pluralism of the society we live in?
  • Does publishing as an industry have an economic imperative to racial equity and diversity?
  • Can the publishing industry move beyond and evolve from the long-standing assumption the target reader is “white?”
PEN America President Ayad Akhtar will give opening remarks. Writer, editor, and publisher Roxane Gay, author Min Jin Lee, publishing veteran Erroll McDonald, and writer and editor Chris Beha will anchor the discussion, with PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel moderating. The audience will have the opportunity to join in the discussion and continue the conversation in a post-event reception.