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May, 2009

The World According to shinji ishii

In her second dispatch this month, Bonnie Elliott tells us more about shinji ishii and the difficulties of resolving the real with the literary. You can find an excerpt from shinji ishii's Once Upon a Swing in this month's issue of the magazine. —Editors In our first email exchange, shinji explained…...

PEN WORLD VOICES FESTIVAL: Faith and Fiction

The Faith & Fiction panel at the Powerhouse Arena felt like a transcendental experience altogether. The Arena is made up of giant glass windows for walls, and stands hidden at the foot of the East River and under the Manhattan Bridge surrounded by cobblestone. Outside it was pouring warm rain and…...

Is Tezuka God?

Continuing our blog coverage this month to celebrate our Japan issue, Yani Mentzas, who many of our readers will remember from his appearance as a blogger during our Graphic Novels issue, holds forth on Osamu Tezuka. —Editors Back in February, when the Graphic Novels issue was up, I wrote here…...

PEN WORLD VOICES FESTIVAL: Nawal El Saadawi and Kwame Anthony Appiah

On the last night of this year's PEN festival, the Egyptian writer Nawal El Saadawi appeared at Cooper Union to deliver the fourth annual Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture and to talk with Kwame Anthony Appiah. To someone who knows her only through her sharp, uncompromising writings, El Saadawi…...

PEN WORLD VOICES FESTIVAL: Enrique Vila-Matas and Paul Auster at FIAF

This was an interesting talk, very well moderated by Eduardo Lago, between two writers who admire one another and have been compared to one another, and even appeared together in public at point wearing the same pair of shoes.Vila-Matas told an anecdote in Spanish that took a few minutes to reach the…...

Book Critics Circle Asks: Which Work in Translation has had the Most Effect on your Reading and Writ

James Marcus (who recently contributed to our PEN World Voices Festival coverage) asked members of the Book Critics Circle "Which work in translation has had the most effect on your reading and writing?" He found some great responses, including Mann's Dr. Faustus, works by Camus, Kundera, as well as…...

Shinji Ishii and The Story Behind the Novel

As part of our month-long celebration of contemporary writing from Japan this May at Words without Borders, Bonnie Elliott provides an informative glimpse into the provenance of Shinji Ishii's novel Once Upon a Swing. You can read an excerpt from the novel, in Bonnie's translation, in this month's issue.…...

Weekly News Update: Round-up of PEN World Voices Thus Far

And now for the coverage on the coverage. Our own reports are still coming in, so continue to check over the next couple of days. I have posts due on Kafka's Amerika, Enrique Vila-Matas and Paul Auster, Richard Ford and Nam Le, and David Grossman on Bruno Shultz, so you'll be witness to a minor miracle…...

PEN World Voices Festival: On the Edge: Writing in Reunified Germany

Moments before Clemens Meyer read this past Friday evening, at the Deutches Haus on the Washington Mews, I spotted him outside on the curb with a can of Budweiser. Inside from the rain, the small room filled up quickly and eventually he came in with an interpreter and Three Percent blog's Chad Post (on…...

PEN World Voices Festival: Is Nonfiction Literature?

íIs nonfiction literature?ë That was the provocative question that Philip Gourevitch, Colum McCann, and Norbert Gstrein addressed at a panel discussion in the auditorium of the Museum of Jewish Heritage. íOf course it is!ë most right-thinking readers would say. Yet if so, why…...

PEN World Voices Festival: Best of Contemporary Mexican Fiction

When you're around a lot of authors it may be easy to forget what a rare and precious thing that is, being a published author. Even more so is being a published author in the United States if you write in a language other than English, being that out of the hundreds of thousands of books published here…...

Talking Translation at the London Book Fair

Having only one day free for attending the London Book Fair, the panel discussion involving Chad Post, Mark Thwaite, Bob Stein, Lance Fensterman, and Abby Blachly had been the one I’d been looking forward to the most. “Marketing Translations and Other ‘Difficult’ Books”…...

PEN World Voices Festival: Defiance: The Spirit of ‘89

Under the familiar image of the man staring down the tank, 10 writers and activists presented readings in honor of the 1989 Tiananmen democracy movements at Joe's Pub this Thursday. Excerpts from Gandhi, Levi, and Steinbeck sandwiched several more unusual gems--the novelist and former Nicaraguan vice-president…...

The Way You Speak about a Cold

Moldova is a forgotten country. Even in Europe, many people hardly know of its existence. Forgotten countries are often poor, and this is also the case with Moldova. It's one of the poorest countries in Europe. Recently, Moldova made it into the international press. Demonstrations against its communist…...

PEN World Voices Festival: Writers Who Are Translators and On Translation

Image of PEN World Voices Festival: Writers Who Are Translators and On Translation
Translating a novel, or a poem, takes serious artistic acrobatics--one couldn't have staggered out of yesterday's back-to-back double feature of “Writers Who Are Translators" and “On Translation” without having arrived at this conclusion. But who would have thought that voice…...

PEN World Voices Festival: PEN Cabaret

The PEN Cabaret at FIAF (French Institute Alliance Française ) last night was both intense and wonderful. Performers, poets, writers, readers, musicians, film makers, actors, PEN members, and countless others came out for PEN's annual cabaret celebration. Salman Rushdie, while not a reader this…...

PEN World Voices Festival: Celebrating Anagrama at Instituto Cervantes

As the venerable Spanish publishing house Anagrama turns 40 this year, they have many triumphs and achievements to look back on, and currently are central to the regeneration of Latin American fiction, most notably of course with the success of Roberto Bolaño.Publisher Jorge Herralde is in town…...

PEN World Voices Festival: Mark Z. Danielewski and Rick Moody

I haven't yet read House of Leaves, the ambitious experimental novel that Mark Z. Danielewski published in 2000. I am unlikely to read Only Revolutions, the even quirkier second novel that Danielewski published in 2006. In his interview with Rick Moody, Danielewski said that Only Revolutions is the book…...

PEN World Voices Festival: This Critical Moment (Part II)

After Eric Banks's and Rigoberto Gonzalez presented on German and Mexican literature at this past Friday's panel featuring the National Book Critics Circle (see more in Part One of the coverage), Laila Lalami, past NBCC Balakian Award candidate, spoke on Egyptian novelist and playwright Nawal El Saadawi,…...

PEN World Voices Festival: This Critical Moment (Part I)

Yesterday afternoon at the Scandinavia House, board members of the National Book Critics Circle and other critics presented on select writers participating in this year's festival. The authors they discussed are from Germany, Mexico, Egypt, the Basque country of Spain, and Zimbabwe, and their comments…...

PEN World Voices Festival: Photos from 1,000 Words: The Power of Visual Storytelling

Photos by Mary Reagan, text from the PEN Website. "What can pictures provide that words cannot? Our panelists have all used pictures to tell challenging and compelling stories: Shaun Tan, from Australia, has imagined the experience of immigration in his wordless book The Arrival; Jonathan Ames, from…...

PEN World Voices Festival: Leaps, Fits, and Starts: The Evolution of a Children’s Book Writer

At Thursday night's panel, moderator Andrea Davis Pinkney did not waste much time before asking the three children's book authors on the panel the inevitable question: what was your favorite book when you were a child? "Animal Farm," answered Australian author-and-illustrator Shaun Tan. In response to…...

PEN World Voices Festival: Evolution/Revolution Readings

Cooper Union Great Hall Wednesday, April 29, 2009 The readings featured by PEN World Voices in the authors' original languages are a special treat, as Bud wrote yesterday to accompany Mary's photographs. Sometimes it's nice to follow line for line with the English translations that scroll down the screens…...

Dispatches: The Moth Revolution: Stories of Change

Great writers are not necessarily great storytellers. They are, after all, people who spend a great deal of time alone. But some of them are, and The Moth exists to showcase this rare breed. The Moth's events bring together famous and the not-so-famous authors in combinations you won't likely see otherwise.…...

PEN World Voices Festival Roundup for Friday

My second day at the PEN World Voices Festival. Tired from being up late talking about Thursday's events with our contributors Nicolle Elizabeth and David Varno, blogging friend Sam Jones and earlier, my friends Pam Yates and Paco de Onís whom I met at the Quiet Revolutions event. Going from one…...

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