The Associated Press reports that Francine Prose, most recently the author of A CHANGED MAN and READING LIKE A WRITER, is expected to be named the new president of PEN‘s American Center when U.S. members gather March 19 for their annual meeting. She would succeed historian Ron Chernow, who declined to seek re-election, citing personal reasons. Prose is a longtime PEN member and advocate who is running unopposed for president, a one-year term for which she receives no salary.
“One of the exciting things to me is that I think even though many people and most writers know about PEN, I think there’s only a vague idea of what PEN actually does,” she said to the AP in a recent telephone interview, listing many programs, including “Freedom to Write,” which supports writers who face persecution or imprisonment. “PEN saves lives. I canâ€™t think of anything more important.” Author Sidney Offit, who headed the PEN nomination committee, said Prose was an obvious choice, respected as a writer and as a colleague, dedicated to the work of PEN and willing to listen to others. “She brings not only collegiality and familiarity, but a willingness to do it, a passion. … Writers do not receive ego satisfaction by titles, being president of something. Most writers are almost totally focused on the distinction of their books.”