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2022 Words Without Borders Virtual Gala

This festive evening will feature some of the world's leading literary voices—Isabel Allende, Merve Emre, Lyuba Yakimchuk, and more!
Headshots of all of the literary hosts of the 2022 WWB virtual gala

Join host Merve Emre, honorary chair Isabel Allende, and a dazzling group of author and translator literary hosts for a celebration of the power of international literature.

The event will feature dynamic readings by poets Lyuba Yakimchuk, Raquel Salas Rivera, and Jack Malik, as well as presentations by Vanessa Chan and Merve Emre.

World-renowned author and WWB gala honorary chair Isabel Allende will join gala chair Chantal Restivo-Alessi for an exclusive virtual interview that will be screened at the event.

Tickets to the virtual gala are free. Please consider making a donation to support WWB (donations are tax-deductible in the US). A recording of the event will be posted on WWB’s Youtube channel several days after it takes place.


More about our presenters:

Merve Emre is associate professor of English at the University of Oxford. She is the author of Paraliterary: The Making of Bad Readers in Postwar America, The Ferrante Letters, and The Personality Brokers, which was selected as one of the best books of 2018 by the New York Times, the Economist, NPR, CBC, and the Spectator. Merve is a contributing writer at the New Yorker. Her essays and criticism have appeared in publications including the New York Review of Books, Harper’s, the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic, and the London Review of Books. In 2022, she served as one of the judges of the International Booker Prize. She is a 2022–23 Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the Shapiro Center at Wesleyan University.

Isabel Allende—novelist, feminist, and philanthropist—is one of the most widely-read authors in the world, having sold more than 75 million books. Since winning worldwide renown in 1982 with the publication of her first novel, The House of the Spirits, she has authored more than twenty-five bestselling and critically acclaimed books. In addition to her work as a writer, Allende devotes much of her time to human rights causes. In 1996, following the death of her daughter Paula, she established a charitable foundation in her honor, which has awarded grants to more than 100 nonprofits worldwide. In 2014, President Barack Obama awarded Allende the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in 2018, she received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation.

Chantal Restivo-Alessi is Chief Digital Officer and CEO, International Foreign Language, for HarperCollins Publishers. Restivo-Alessi has extensive expertise in strategy development and execution, has held numerous senior strategy positions, and has more than twenty years of international media management experience. She joined HarperCollins from ING Bank in London, where she was Head of Media Corporate Finance. Restivo-Alessi is fluent in six languages, holds an MBA from Columbia University, an MA in Foreign Trade and International Marketing from ICE Italian Institute, and a Laurea (MA) in International Political Sciences from University of Rome.

Jack Malik is a poet from Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia, who has been part of the artist collective Projek Rabak since 2015. Since then, he has been actively writing, performing, and translating poetry. His works have been published internationally in Mekong Review and locally in various publications. Jack mainly writes in Malay and has published two poetry collections locally: Sajakjakja(c)k and Wannabe Sasau. He received the 2020 Selangor State Literary Prize for poetry.

Vanessa Chan is the author of the novel The Storm We Made and the story collection The Ugliest Babies in the World, both forthcoming from Scribner/Marysue Rucci Books. Her other work has been published or is forthcoming in Conjunctions, Electric Literature, Kenyon Review, Ecotone, and more. Her fiction has been spotlighted in Best Small Fictions, selected for the Wigleaf Top 50, and nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net anthologies. Vanessa has received scholarship support from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Tin House, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and others. She grew up in Malaysia and is now based mostly in Brooklyn, where she is the co-curator of the acclaimed Pete’s Reading Series.

Lyuba Yakimchuk is a Ukrainian poet, screenwriter, and journalist. She is the author of several full-length poetry collections, including Like FASHION and Apricots of Donbas, and the film script for The Building of the Word. Her writing has appeared in magazines in Ukraine, Sweden, Germany, Poland, and Israel, and has been translated into eleven languages. She performs in a musical and poetic duet with the Ukrainian double-bass player Mark Tokar; their projects include Apricots of Donbas and Women, Smoke, and Dangerous Things. In 2015 Kiev’s New Time magazine listed Yakimchuk among the one hundred most influential people of culture in Ukraine.

Raquel Salas Rivera (Mayagüez, 1985) is a Puerto Rican poet, translator, and editor. His honors include being named Poet Laureate of Philadelphia, the New Voices Award from the Festival de la Palabra, the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry, the inaugural Ambroggio Prize, the Laureate Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. He is the author of six full-length poetry books, which have been longlisted and shortlisted for the National Book Award, the PEN America Open Book Award, and the CLMP Firecracker Award. He works as investigator and head of the translation team for El proyecto de la literatura puertorriqueña/The Puerto Rican Literature Project (PRLP), a free, bilingual, user-friendly, and open access digital portal.

With special thanks to the supporters of the WWB gala:


Amazon Crossing
Apple Books
Bloomsbury Publishing
Curtis Brown and United Talent Agency
HarperCollins Publishers
Ingram Content Group
Irwin & Hsuan LLP
London Literary Scouting
Maria B. Campbell Associates
Open Road Integrated Media
Other Press
Penguin Random House

Host Committee

Isabel Allende, Honorary Chair
Chantal Restivo-Alessi, Gala Chair
Tara Parsons, Vice Chair
Amy and Peter Bernstein
Richard d’Albert and Catherine Greenman
Abe Hsuan
Jenny Staff Johnson
Sarah Salih von Maltzahn
Alane Salierno Mason
Jennifer Moross
Jim Ottaway, Jr.
Kalpana Raina
Jennifer Ayer Sandell
Samantha Schnee
Jonathan Schorr
Rebecca Servadio
Margo and Anthony Viscusi
Andrew Weinstein