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PEN World Voices: 2009

April 2009

The always-fabulous PEN World Voices Festival launches its fifth annual celebration of global literature at the end of this month, and we’re kicking off the party with a sampler of new writing from a selection of the participants. Through narratives grounded in biblical definitions of love and classic Arabic erotic literature, in alphabetical order and mental chaos, writers explore topics local and universal. See how Bernardo Atxaga, Enrique Vila-Matas, Salwa Al Neimi, Meir Shalev, Adrian Tomine, and Paul Verhaeghen create their own worlds in strikingly varied voices.

A Surprising Tale in the Form of an Alphabet
By Bernardo Atxaga
My friends were beginning to worry: Was I writing too many alphabets?
Translated from Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa
The Masseuse and Her Adulterous Husband
By Salwa Al Neimi
The first time I saw her, I failed to notice her beauty.
Translated from Arabic by Carol Perkins
East End
By Enrique Vila-Matas
Bel doesn’t answer. Spider appears to be listening to, even eavesdropping on our conversation, even my thoughts.
Translated from Spanish by Samantha Schnee
The First Love
By Meir Shalev
The village rocked tranquilly upon the waves, up and down, creating a strange sensation.
Translated from Hebrew by Stuart Schoffman
An Interview with Adrian Tomine
By Dot Lin
Over 800 pages and eleven years in the making, A Drifting Life is a monumental achievement and the long-waited autobiography of legendary Japanese cartoonist Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Called the father of gekiga—realistic…
Three Fables
By Paul Verhaeghen
She didn’t do anything. She just sat. And there it was, then, fully formed.
Translated from Dutch by the author