Sebastian Horsley, World Voices, and other news

As you may have heard, British memoirist Sebastian Horsley was denied entry into the US on account of "moral turpitude." As mentioned here before, PEN has long opposed ideological exclusion, and even if Horsley is no Doris Lessing, laws like this shouldn't be abided.

And so Horsley has been invited to this year's World Voices festival, April 28-May 4 in New York (with satellite events in Boston-- i.e., Cambridge-- and Rochester). With any luck, the US government will get the chance to exclude him once again, and draw further attention to this frankly un-American policy.

If they do so, though, he'll miss some great events: Ian McEwan and Steven Pinker; Rushdie, Eco, and Vargas Llosa together again; Rabih Alameddine talking with Aleksandar Hemon; Susan Bernofsky, Deborah Eisenberg, Jeffrey Eugenides, Wayne Koestenbaum, and Michael Krüger paying tribute to Robert Walser; the list goes on and on.

For some less partial-- but no less favorable-- responses to the lineup, see here, here, and here (that last link includes a great write-up by James Marcus of the "launch" event held last week aboard the Queen Mary 2; by the way, the unidentified kazoo player Marcus mentions, who joined Dale Peck and Jonathan Ames on stage, was the indefatigable Fran Manushkin).

Also, if you missed it, the winners of the PEN Translation Fund's 2008 grants have been announced. A bunch of great projects that shouldn't be without publishers for long.

Update: more write-ups of the Queen Mary 2 event here, here, and here.

Late update: PEN's letter to Condoleeza Rice and Michael Chertoff concerning Horsley. Also, the press release.


Mike Branton said...
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Mike Doncaster said...

About Sebastian Horsley, it was my impression that he was stopped at the border and denied entry due to his self-confessed former drug addiction, conviction of possessing amphetamine sulphate a number of years ago and frequent use of prostitutes.

Any of these would disallow a traveller to use the Visa Waiver Program available to 23 countries' very western citizens.

Mr. Horsley is still allowed to apply for a visa to the U.S.A. together with anyone else from the remaining 170 or so countries of the world. He hasn't been barred from travelling to America, only required to follow the same procedures as citizens of Mexico, Iran, Vietnam, Japan, etc, whether they are writers, journalists, welders, or students.

With a chequered past, how could anyone expect to be able to travel on a privileged programme?

This is not about Mr Horsley's memoir or his fashion sense. It's about the Department of Homeland Security having a specific set of rules for a travellers' programme, and following them regardless of who the person is. See the example of Amy Winehouse, similarly denied entry due to her drug problems.

Of course, who knows if this wasn't a setup by his publishers? There was certainly some highly valuable press coverage of this incident all over the world.

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