Former President Barack Obama clinched the second annual PEN Voice of Influence Award for his books which have “traversed political, social, and ideological bounds and framed a self-reflective humanism that has marked his influence on public life.”
PEN America is a New York-based organization whose motto is “Protecting free expression and celebrating literature.” In addition to bequeathing awards they also advocate for writers and promote literature.
Obama’s memoir “A Promised Land” was released in mid-November and already sold 1.7 million copies during its first week in stores. Sales broke the record for largest one-week sales total for any book ever published by Penquin Random House.
The PEN honor will be bestowed during the organization’s annual gala to be hold on December 8, in virtual mode due to the coronavirus pandemic. The ceremony will feature Obama and historian Ron Chernow, who has written several books on past important personalities including George Washington, Ulysses Grant, and Alexander Hamilton, will talk about freedom of speech and the need for truth in a world of the fast spread and ubiquity of false information.
Two other books by Obama include “Dreams of My Father,” a memoir of his youth, and “The Audacity of Hope,” the former president’s call for a different kind of politics based in faith, inclusiveness and nobility of spirit.
Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America, said in a statement that:
“As an organization of writers, we have always seen President Obama not just as a leader, but as one of us: an author. His probing and evocative narratives helped introduce the world to his unique background, and the power of his life experience as a prompt toward a more pluralistic and encompassing society.”