• Awards

Tina Fey received the PEN/Mike Nichols Writing for Performance Award

“As a 52-year-old woman who’s been living in New York and writing comedy for 30 years, there aren’t too many rooms anymore where I feel like a charlatan and a failure, but we found one! It’s tonight! I am vibrating with the energy of a person who’s afraid that the next thing she says will reveal her idiocy!”

These were the words of actress, comedian, writer, producer, and playwright Tina Fey, as part of her acceptance speech of the PEN/Mike Nichols Writing for Performance Award last Thursday in New York City. The ceremony took place in a Broadway theater (The Town Hall), not far from Rockefeller Center, the setting of her hit comedy 30 Rock (2006-2013), created by Fey based on her experiences as head writer for Saturday Night Live (SNL). For it Fey was nominated six times to the Golden Globes and won twice as Best Television Actress – Musical/Comedy Series. That led her to host the Golden Globes four times along with Amy Poehler, her former SNL alum.

“It’s a pleasure to be here accepting an award named after the great Mike Nichols. It’s such an honor to be associated with his name in any way. You could have called this award the ‘Bitch, You Are No Mike Nichols Award’ and I still would have gladly shown up and accepted it just to have my name in proximity with his career,” she continued.

The award was presented by another of Fey’s longtime collaborators, Rachel Dratch. “Tina, I will say this: if I had one wish for you tonight, it would be that you had written this speech I am giving in your honor. It would be far wittier and, let’s face it, your speech would probably be turned into a Broadway play that could then become a movie that could in turn be a musical and then a movie musical and then back into a Broadway play and then into an Avant Garde performance piece downtown. If Tina wrote this speech about herself, you would be belly-laughing and maybe not even realize you had learned something about society along the way,” she said.


Fey’s award included a cash prize of US$25,000. Previous honorees have included George C. Wolfe, Tom Stoppard, and Golden Globes nominees Kenneth Lonergan and Elaine May.

Besides Fey, “titan of Hindi literature Vinod Kumar Shukla and acclaimed playwright Erika Dickerson-Despenza” were recognized with career achievement awards. The ceremony conferred 11 awards to writers and translators of 2022’s “most exemplary works”, with prize money totaling US$350,000.


Defined as “a celebration of literary excellence”, the 50th annual PEN America Literary Awards were hosted by Kal Penn, actor, author, and former Obama White House aide.

Founded in 1922, PEN America “stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.”


PEN America is a grantee of the HFPA’s philanthropy program, which has bestowed more than US$55 million in fellowships and grants to film schools and non-profit organizations around the world.

Last Thursday full ceremony can be watched here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5lQohHl63o

Below is a full list of the Award Winners

·      PEN/Jean Stein Award: Percival Everett, Dr. No.

·      PEN Open Book Award: Hafizah Augustus Geter, The Black Period

·      PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection: Morgan Talty, Night of the Living Rez

·      PEN/Hemingway Award For Debut Novel: Oscar Hokeah, Calling for a Blanket Dance

·      PEN/Voelcker Award For Poetry Collection, Robin Coste Lewis, To the Realization of Perfect Helplessness

·      PEN Award for Poetry in Translation: Daniel Borzutzky, for the translation of Paula Ilabaca Nuñez’s The Loose Pearl

·      PEN Translation Prize: Tiffany Tsao, for the translation of Budi Darma’s People from Bloomington

·      PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay: Judith Thurman, A Left Handed Woman

·      PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award: Florence Williams, Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey

·      PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award For Biography: Dan Charnas, Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm

·      PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction: Eve Fairbanks, The Inheritors: An Intimate Portrait of South Africa’s Racial Reckoning