PEN honours Rowling

NEW YORK: JK Rowling’s latest honour isn’t only for her writing. The Harry Potter author is to receive the PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award, PEN America told The Associated Press on January 25.

Rowling will be presented her award on May 16 at the literary and human rights group’s annual spring gala in New York. Previous winners include Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie and Tim Stoppard.

In its announcement on January 25, PEN cited Rowling’s advocacy for free expression; her founding of the charitable trust Volant, which supports multiple sclerosis research and other causes; and her non profit organisation Lumos, which works to reconnect institutionalised children with their families.

“I’m deeply honoured to receive this award and humbled that my work has been recognised as having moral value by an organisation I so admire,” Rowling told the AP in a statement. “I’ve long been a supporter of PEN, which does invaluable work on behalf of imprisoned writers and in defense of freedom of speech.”

Rowling’s Potter books have been the targets of censorship and attempted censorship, with the fantasy series’ feats of wizardry leading to worldwide allegations that the author advocates witchcraft and the occult. PEN America president and prize-winning author Andrew Solomon said in a statement that Rowling’s writing provides a wealth of “imagination, empathy, humour, and a love of reading, along the way revealing moral choices that help us understand ourselves.”