I was flattered to be nominated for membership in the PEN American Center last month. I sent off my acceptance early this week, and I am unbelievably honored and grateful to its Membership Committee for inviting me. I look forward to the good things ahead.
Here is a bit on PEN:
PEN American Center is the largest of the 141 centers of International PEN, the world’s oldest human rights organization and the oldest international literary organization. International PEN was founded in 1921 to dispel national, ethnic, and racial hatreds and to promote understanding among all countries. PEN American Center, founded a year later, works to advance literature, to defend free expression, and to foster international literary fellowship.
The standard qualification for a writer to become a member of PEN is publication of two or more books of a literary character, or one book generally acclaimed to be of exceptional distinction. Also eligible for membership: editors who have demonstrated commitment to excellence in their profession (usually construed as five years' service in book editing); translators who have published at least two book-length literary translations; playwrights whose works have been produced professionally; and literary essayists whose publications are extensive even if they have not yet been issued as a book.
The 2005-2006 Board of Trustees includes:
Salman Rushdie, President
Paul Auster, Vice-President
Jhumpa Lahiri, Vice-President
Wendy Gimbel, Treasurer
Rick Moody, Secretary