Unlike most things associated with Stephen King there is nothing scary or shocking about this year’s PEN America Literary Service Award. Rather, the Maine author, who has produced dozens of best-selling thrillers and other fiction, is being honored for creating a body of work that “helps us to understand the human condition in original and powerful ways,” according to the website of PEN America, which works to advance literature and defend free expression.
King, who produced such classics as “It,’’ “The Dark Tower,’’ and “Under the Dome,’’ is considered one of the most frequently banned or challenged writers in America, owing to his depictions of horror and violence. He and his wife, Tabitha, are powerful free-speech advocates as well as generous supporters of artists, writers, and local communities through their philanthropy. In fact, King’s outspoken criticism of policies that infringe on freedom of expression and other rights have resulted in his being blocked by President Trump on Twitter.
King will receive the award at PEN America’s annual literary gala in New York on May 22 — the release date of his new novel, “The Outsiders.” Past winners include J.K. Rowling, Salman Rushdie, Toni Morrison, and Margaret Atwood.