Actor Kal Penn will host the PEN America Literary Awards ceremony, the nonprofit literary organization announced in a news release.
Penn is known for his roles in the Harold & Kumar series of comedy films, as well as in television shows including House and Designated Survivor. He is also the author of a book, the 2021 memoir You Can’t Be Serious, which a critic for Kirkus gave a starred review, writing, “Penn has a pleasing ability to be serious and funny at the same time. A story well worth hearing.”
Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf, PEN America’s chief program officer for literary programming, said the actor “epitomizes PEN America’s belief in the capacity of writers and artists to instigate social and political change.”
In a statement, Penn said he was honored to be hosting the ceremony.
“Having recently published my first book, and been moved by its kind reception—particularly by those who felt some element of their experiences reflected back at them with clarity—I’ve seen a different side of the magic of the written word to create a less isolating world,” Penn said. “The fact that writing uplifts, informs, and unites people is cause for celebration and protection, especially today. I’m thrilled to be a part of an unforgettable commemoration of new, and surely enduring, writing.”
The PEN America Literary Awards will be held at the Town Hall in New York City on March 2. A full list of the authors and books in contention for the prizes is available at the PEN America website.
Michael Schaub, a journalist and regular contributor to NPR, lives near Austin, Texas.