PEN America has canceled its 2024 Literary Awards ceremony, which was previously scheduled to be held at the Town Hall in New York City on April 29, although some awards will still be conferred. The move follows months of steadily mounting criticism of the organization over its response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which culminated last week in 28 authors withdrawing books from consideration for the awards, including nine of the 10 authors nominated for the organization's top prize, the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award.

“We greatly respect that writers have followed their consciences, whether they chose to remain as nominees in their respective categories or not,” PEN America literary programming chief officer Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf said in a statement. “We regret that this unprecedented situation has taken away the spotlight from the extraordinary work selected by esteemed, insightful and hard-working judges across all categories. As an organization dedicated to freedom of expression and writers, our commitment to recognizing and honoring outstanding authors and the literary community is steadfast.”

The $75,000 prize accompanying the PEN/Stein award will be donated, this year, to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund at the direction of the Literary Estate of Jean Stein. The late Stein "was a passionate advocate for Palestinian rights who published, supported, and celebrated Palestinian writers and visual artists," her daughters, Katrina and Wendy vanden Heuvel, and literary agent, Bill Clegg, said in a collective statement. "While she established the PEN America award in her name to bring attention to and provide meaningful support to writers of the highest literary achievement, we know she would have respected the stance and sacrifice of the writers who have withdrawn from contention this year."

The five finalists and winning titles for each of the more than 20 awards conferred by PEN America had already been selected by judges during deliberations held before the mass withdrawals, the organization said in a statement. As a result, the organization continued, the two winners who remained under consideration for their awards will receive their cash prizes. Those include Countries of Origin by Javier Fuentes (Pantheon), which was chosen to win the $10,000 PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel, and The Blue House: Collected Works of Tomas Tranströmer by the late Tomas Tranströmer, translated from the Swedish by Patty Crane (Copper Canyon Press), which was chosen to win the $3,000 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation.

No winners will be announced if the winning title was withdrawn from consideration for the award, PEN America added. For the cash prizes that cannot be conferred, decisions on how to allocate the funds “will be made on a case-by-case basis, according to the specifications of each award contract and the wishes of our generous award underwriters.”

This year's four previously announced career award achievement award winners will still receive their awards. Those include Tony Kushner, who will receive the $25,000 PEN/Mike Nichols Writing for Performance Award; Suzanne Jill Levine, who will receive the $1,000 PEN/Ralph Manheim Award for Translation; Guadalís Del Carmen, who will receive the $10,000 PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award; and the late Maryse Condé, who died on April 2 and will posthumously receive the $50,000 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.

In a statement last week, PEN America board president Jennifer Finney Boylan committed to conducting a "review" of PEN’s work "going back a decade." At present, no changes have been announced for the organization's World Voices Festival or Literary Gala, which are both less than a month away.