The free speech activist group announced Wednesday that it was awarding its second annual Voice of Influence Award to the 44th president, recognizing how his writings “have traversed political, social and ideological bounds and framed a self-reflective humanism that has marked his influence on public life.”
Presentation of the award will be held virtually on Dec. 8 with a discussion between Obama and award-winning author and historian Ron Chernow on the freedom to write, the nonprofit said.
Obama’s book came out last week and sold more than 1.7 million copies in its first week — making it the best-selling book in Penguin Random House’s history. He’s also penned “Dreams from My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.”
“As an organization of writers, we have always seen President Obama not just as a leader, but as one of us: an author,” said PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel in a statement. “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.”
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay was the recipient of PEN America’s first Voice of Influence Award last year.