WWB Writers and Translators at PEN World Voices Festival

By Kristina Fazzalaro

Monday kicks off the ten-year anniversary of the PEN World Voices Festival, and we here at Words without Borders could not be more excited. This year, the festival is celebrating those authors who live life “on the edge”—risking it all to share both their craft and their beliefs with the world.

Over 150 of these writers converge on New York City in the coming days, taking part in a wide range of literary events. Perennial favorites include the Literary Safari on Tues. April 29 and (of special interest to WWB) the Translation Slam on Fri. May 2. The number of talks, workshops, and master classes is seemingly endless, but keep an eye out for WWB’s own event, “Talking about Taboos: An Evening of Dutch and Flemish Literature” on the evening of May 1.

And keep your eyes peeled and ears to the ground for some of our favorite authors and translators. Words without Borders is no stranger to writers living and working “on the edge,” so it should come as no surprise that some of our featured writers will be in town this week. Some of our alums that will be attending the festival this year include Sofi Oksanen, Adonis, Dorota Masłowska, Andrés Neuman, Josef Winkler, Sjón, László Krasznahorkai, and Israel Centeno.

Sofi Oksanen is a Finnish-Estonian novelist and playwright whose novel Purge was the first to win Finland's two most prestigious literary awards, the Finlandia and the Runeberg. You can check out an excerpt from Purge, as well as one from her earlier novel Baby Jane, here. Oksanen will be attending two events at this year’s festival, Opening Night: On the Edge on Mon. April 28 and the sold-out event Babette’s Feast 2.0: Judd Foundation on May 1.

The celebrated Arab poet Adonis, born in Northern Syria in 1930, has used his lyrical poetry over the last thirty years to explore the relationships between tradition and modernity, and between the Eastern and Western worlds. You can read his “The Other Body / The Other Home” here. Adonis will also be at the festival’s opening event, but will be the feature of Master/Class: Adonis and Jorie Graham with Khaled Mattawa.

Dorota Masłowska, writing from Poland, won the Polityka Prize and the Nike Prize for her debut novel, Wojny polsko-ruskiej pod flagą biało-czerwoną, or Snow White and Russian Red. An excerpt can found here. Maslowska will be attending Readings: Nine Plays from Five Continents on Tues. April 29.

Argentine writer Andrés Neuman’s A Line in the Sand can be read here before you check him out at two PEN events: A Literary Safari and Resonances: Contemporary Writers on the Classics.

Josef Winkler, the Austrian author of the award-winning trilogy Das wilde Kärnten, is featured on WWB here. He will be attending the Literary Quartet: Two on Two on Wed. April 30.

Work from the Icelandic poet, novelist, and playwright Sjón can be found on our website. Sjón will be in attendance at three PEN events: Literary Quartet: Two on Two, Babette’s Feast 2.0: Invisible Dog, and In Conversation: Osama Alomar and Lydia Davis with Sjón.

From Caracas, Israel Centeno writes novels, poetry, and short fiction about the shortcomings of society. Read his A Pornomilitary Romanza here. He will attend Creativity and Craft in Asylum on Sat. May 3.

You can read our book review of Hungarian writer László Krasznahorkai’s Satantango and his El último lobo before checking him out on the festival’s last day at Master/Class: László Krasznahorkai and Colm Tóibín.

And be sure to catch some of our translators at their events around the city, too. Michael F. Moore will be the emcee of the Translation Slam. Emmanuelle Ertel is part of the line-up of poets and translators.
Heather Cleary will be moderating the panel, "Translating on the Edge" whose panelists include Sara Khalili.

There are many more authors and translators roaming the streets of NYC this week, but we think this is a solid list to get you prepped for PEN. Enjoy the festival, and be sure to check back with Words without Borders for updates and coverage throughout the week on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and—our newly arrived!—Instagram.


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