Earlier this week American playwright Edward Albee received the 2012 PEN Literary Service Award, an annual honor recognizing a writer “whose critically acclaimed work illuminates the human condition in original and powerful ways.”
Albee’s award was conferred during the 2012 PEN Literary Gala, a lavish gathering bringing together many of the world’s most acclaimed writers and editors to begin this year’s PEN World Voices Festival. Notable attendees included novelist Gary Shteyngart, who tweeted “Tried to take photo of Edward Albee at PEN dinner but didn't realize you can't photograph god” and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Tony Kushner, who presented Albee’s award.
Albee’s acceptance speech highlighted the work done to promote the PEN American Center’s mission to secure the liberty of imprisoned writers worldwide, defend freedom of expression, and promote literature and international cultural exchange. Albee commented, “What happens to creativity in dictatorial societies? We all know that silence happens,” continuing, “PEN’s freedom to write committee makes sure there is sound.”
Albee is the author of more than thirty plays and the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including three Pulitzer Prizes for Drama (a number exceeded only by Eugene O’Neill’s four), three Tony Awards, the Gold Medal in Drama by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Kennedy Center Honors, and the National Medal of Arts. Overlook publishes three volumes of Albee’s collected plays, as well as standalone editions of some of his best known work including The Goat or Who is Sylvia, The Play About the Baby , Seascape, and At Home at the Zoo.