Category: PEN World Voices Festival

May, 2013

PEN World Voices Festival Dispatch: Palestinian Writers in Conversation

The decades-long Arab-Israeli conflict has yielded many harrowing developments, but none, arguably, more absurd than the un-improvable bit of legal coinage that deemed a portion of Israel’s Palestinian residents as present absentees. The term applies to tens of thousands of…...

PEN World Voices Festival Dispatch: The Translation Slam

The Translation Slam has become a popular tradition in the PEN World Voices Festival, and this year’s event saw a full house at The Public Theater on Friday evening. For years it was held at the Bowery Poetry Club, which lamentably closed this past week. Host Michael F. Moore was clearly dismayed…...

PEN World Voices Festival Dispatch: South Africa in Two Acts

Siphiwo Mahala set the stage for this engaging discussion of South African literature and media at the Cooper Union on Saturday with an opening brief on the political state of the country, focusing on freedom of speech rights.  The looming issue is a bill, already passed by both chambers of Congress,…...

PEN World Voices Festival Dispatch: Haiti in Two Acts

Image of PEN World Voices Festival Dispatch: Haiti in Two Acts
When an earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, among the 300,000 killed were Georges Anglade, the president of PEN Haiti, and his wife Mireille Neptune. Today novelist Jean-Euphèle Milcé and poet and novelist Emmélie Prophète, his wife, serve as president and vice president.…...

PEN World Voices Festival: Master Class with Eduardo Galeano

Image of PEN World Voices Festival: Master Class with Eduardo Galeano
"I learned the art of writing and the art of storytelling in the cafés of Montevideo," said the great and loved Eduardo Galeano during his hour-long conversation with Jessica Hagedorn Saturday night. It was as though all 500 of us at the filled-to-capacity auditorium at the New School were transported…...

PEN World Voices Festival Dispatch: Speaking in Tongues

At the Juan Carlos I of Spain Center at NYU, Speaking in Tongues: A Poetry Reading opened with an introduction from Creative Writing in Spanish Director Mariela Dreyfus, who spoke about the historic thread connecting the readers: “Poets in Spanish-speaking countries, but none of which write in…...

PEN World Voices Festival Dispatch: “Speaking in Languages on the Edge”

The Speaking in Languages on the Edge event, held on May 1, featured Gillian Clarke, Joy Harjo, Natalio Hernandez, and Bob Holman. There are approximately 6,000 languages in the world, and more than half of them are endangered. This was one of the facts that introduced the PEN World Voices event Speaking…...

PEN World Voices Festival Dispatch: “The Critic’s Global Voice”

The Critic's Global Voice event, featuring Jean-Euphèle Milcé, Ursula Krechel, and Mikhail Shishkin (moderated by Albert Mobilio), took place on Wednesday, May 1. Reports of the death of American literary culture have been, well, at least a little exaggerated.  There’s…...

May, 2011

film icon Writing in a Majority/Minority Cultural Context: Local Identity vs. a Broader Nation

PEN created this video of the panel our editorial director, Susan Harris, moderated (and we co-sponsored) as part of the PEN World Voices Festival, with Nadine Bismuth, Nicolas Dickner, Dominique Fortier, Mykola Riabchuk, and Teresa Solana.

PEN World Voices 2011: Amelié Nothomb in conversation with Buket Uzuner, Friday April 29th

Image of PEN World Voices 2011: Amelié Nothomb in conversation with Buket Uzuner, Friday April 29th
Here’s a tip for writers eager to cultivate a rarified air of eccentricity: regardless of the weather, wear a big hat! According to Amelié Nothomb, whose outré headgear is her trademark—today, at La Maison Française’s panel discussion with Turkish novelist and travel…...

May, 2010

Interview with Alina Bronsky, author of “Broken Glass Park”

Image of Interview with Alina Bronsky, author of “Broken Glass Park”
Alina Bronsky, a German writer of Russian origin, immigrated to Germany when she was thirteen, and published her first novel, Broken Glass Park, in 2008 when she was only thirty years old. The novel was very well received by both the public and the critics and was nominated for the Bachmann Prize, one…...

film icon Discovering “The Black Minutes” at the PEN World Voices Festival

I went to see the NBCC's* "This Critical Moment" panel for the single reason that last year I hadn't and missed Rigoberto González's discussion of Álvaro Enrigue (whose work we've published). I felt what he had to say about Enrigue was important and well thought out, the sort…...

Ben Okri and Anderson Tepper at the PEN World Voices Festival

Image of Ben Okri and Anderson Tepper at the PEN World Voices Festival
Don’t say I didn’t warn you. If you missed Ben Okri’s appearance on Sunday, you may have a long wait before another one comes along. Okri doesn’t like to fly — “I go by train, by boat, or I swim” — and he has not been in New York for many years. Worse…...

Toni Morrison and Marlene van Niekerk at the PEN World Voices Festival

Image of Toni Morrison and Marlene van Niekerk at the PEN World Voices Festival
Marlene van Niekerk is one of the most prominent Afrikaans-language writers, the author of (among other books) two big and ambitious novels: Triomf and Agaat. Toni Morrison’s enthusiasm for Agaat appeared to be the reason for this event, in which the Nobel Prize winner did her best to keep the…...

PEN World Voices: Atiq Rahimi in Conversation with Lila Azam Zanganeh

Afghan author Atiq Rahimi’s Prix Goncourt-winning and internationally acclaimed novel, The Patience Stone—an excerpt of which he read during the festival’s opening night extravaganza—is his fourth book, but the first that he wrote in French, rather than in his Persian mother tongue.…...

Patti Smith and Jonathan Lethem at the PEN World Voices Festival

Image of Patti Smith and Jonathan Lethem at the PEN World Voices Festival
I was lucky enough to be in the middle of reading Patti Smith's memoir Just Kids when I went to hear her in conversation with Jonathan Lethem. The book centers around her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, whom she met almost as soon as she arrived in New York City at the age of twenty, and it…...

film icon Resonances: Contemporary Writers on the Classics at PEN World Voices Festival

My goal each day of the PEN World Voices Festival is to find one writer or one book I've never heard of that sparks my interest. What more could one ask for? Thursday's find was Marcel Möring whose novel, In a Dark Wood, owes its conception to Dante's Inferno. I found Möring at…...

PEN World Voices: David Almond and Sofi Oksanen in Conversation with Rakesh Satyal

“The act of writing is an act of exploration, an act of discovery…and that’s what growing up is,” mused British children's author David Almond on Friday, when he appeared with Finnish-Estonian novelist Sofi Oksanen at CUNY’s Elebash Recital Hall. During the hour-long…...

April, 2010

I Come From There: New Plays from the Arab World at PEN World Voices Festival

At the Martin E. Segal Theatre at the CUNY Graduate Center yesterday afternoon, readings of two works by young playwrights—presented by the British Council and London’s Royal Court Theatre, with support from the Sundance Institute Theater Program—explored notions of home. In Withdrawal…...

Ben Okri at PEN World Voices

Image of Ben Okri at PEN World Voices
African authors are few and far between at this year's PEN World Voices Festival -- but the festival does offer a rare opportunity to hear Ben Okri, the Nigerian-born author of The Famished Road, which won the Booker Prize in 1991. Years ago I had the chance to hear Okri at MIT. He was a captivating…...

March, 2010

Some of the Things We’re Excited About For the Upcoming PEN World Voices Festival #PWVFEST

Image of Some of the Things We’re Excited About For the Upcoming PEN World Voices Festival #PWVFEST
We are as always excited about the upcoming PEN World Voices Festival, to be held this year from Monday, April 26th, to Sunday May 2nd. Notably this year the festival will travel to six other cities around the United States. Sure to be an important discussion, the festival will begin with Lorraine Adams,…...

May, 2009

PEN World Voices Festival: Richard Ford and Nam Le at Morgan Library

Richard Ford and Nam Le at Morgan Library, May 3, Gilder Lehrman Hall, also part of BOMBLive! series Venerable fiction man Richard Ford gave a particularly generous introduction to young short story writer Nam Le, whose debut collection The Boat received several awards and much critical recognition last…...

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…...

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…...

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