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J.K. Rowling to come to New York for the PEN America literary service award

J.K. Rowling

“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling will receive the PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award.

(Dan Hallman / Invision)

The hottest ticket of the spring season may be a literary awards dinner.

“Harry Potter” fans might soon be lining up to buy tickets to the PEN Literary Gala in New York, where J.K. Rowling will accept the 2016 PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award. Tables at the May 16 dinner, which is a benefit for the nonprofit organization, cost $12,500 and up.

Rowling told the Associated Press that she was “honored” and “humbled” to receive the award. “I’ve long been a supporter of PEN, which does invaluable work on behalf of imprisoned writers and in defense of freedom of speech,” she said.

Previous recipients of the PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award include Philip Roth, Toni Morrison and Salman Rushdie. 

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PEN President Andrew Solomon credited Rowling with both her advocacy work and her creative success with “Harry Potter,” teaching children empathy and a love of reading. “A gifted storyteller, fierce opponent of censorship, advocate for women’s and girls’ rights, and staunch defender of access to education, Rowling uses all of the tools at her disposal to create a better and more just world for our children,” Solomon said in a release.

Rowling has been widely praised for her philanthropy over the years. She is the founder of the Volant Charitable Trust, which funds charities that address poverty among women and children, as well as research for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

She also is the founder of Lumos, a charity that seeks to reunite children living in institutions with their families.

PEN America also cited Rowling’s support of free expression and opposition to government censorship. “Herself the frequent object of censorship in schools and libraries across the globe, as well as online targeting, Rowling has emerged as a vocal proponent of free expression and access to literature and ideas for children, as well as incarcerated people, the learning-disabled, and women and girls worldwide,” the organization said in a statement.

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The organization also announced that Michael Pietsch, CEO of Hachette Book Group, will be the 2016 publisher honoree. The organization cited Pietsch’s recent advocacy for greater free speech in China, his editorial policies and vocal contribution “to the conversation about publishers’ roles in the changing landscape for writers, publishers, booksellers, and readers” — in other words, his public tussle with Amazon.


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