PEN/Faulkner gala is a politics-free zone this year

October 8, 2013
Sen. Pat Leahy and emcee Calvin Trillin at PEN/Faulkner's 25th anniversary gala Monday at the Folger Shakespeare Library. (James R. Brantley)
Sen. Pat Leahy and emcee Calvin Trillin at the PEN/Faulkner gala. (James R. Brantley)

Given the shutdown in Washington, we expected some scathing commentary at the PEN/Faulkner gala Monday. But no, writers at the 25th anniversary dinner steered clear of politics — unlike 2008, when Terry McMillan tore into John McCain and Sarah Palin, or last year, when Elissa Schappell weighed in on religion and abortion.

Eleven writers — including Washington’s George Pelecanos, Anthony Marra, Mary Kay Zuravleff and 15-year-old Rachel Page— presented short readings on the theme of “renewal,” but the closest anyone came to politics was a nod to war veterans. The gala at Folger Shakespeare Library was followed by dinner for the black-tied patrons (Sens. Pat Leahy and Thad Cochran, Mary Haft, Susan Richards Shreve, Kay Kendall, Jim Lehrer, Maureen Orth, Andrew Cockburn, and Septime Webre.)

The only reference to the government crisis? “I hope you’ll join us again next year,” said emcee Calvin Trillin, nodding towards the Capitol two blocks away. “We’ll be open, even if they’re closed.”

More on the readers from our colleague Ron Charles: Silver anniversary of the PEN/Faulkner gala

More on social Washington and the shutdown:
Ceremony marking rescue of Danish Jews postponed by shutdown
Children’s Inn’s bipartisan gala has no-shows on shutdown night
Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras misses party, National Gallery exhibit, due to shutdown

More Reliable Source: Kathie Lee Gifford; Tom Hanks; Halle Berry; Josh Duggar; Jodie Foster; Stephanie Cutter; Jennifer Lopez; Tom Clancy; Chelsea Clinton

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Amy Argetsinger · October 8, 2013