A formal announcement for PEN's August 7 event, "Bringing down the Great Firewall: Silenced Writers Speak on the Eve of the Olympics," is now online. That Thursday night, at the New School's Tischman Auditorium (66 W. 12th St.), at 7 pm, PEN will honor the more than 40 writers and journalists currently being held in Chinese prisons for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
Edward Albee, Russell Banks, Barbara Goldsmith, Jessica Hagedorn, Rick Moody, Martha Southgate, Francine Prose, and others will read statements written by leading Chinese writers including Ma Jian and Xiaolu Guo, along with new and previously untranslated statements and writings by several of the writers currently imprisoned in China.
The event was put together with the Independent Chinese PEN Center. If you'll be in New York, please come and "hear the voices the Chinese government doesn’t want you to hear."
PS. PEN member Jess Row wrote a shrewd and intriguing review of Ma Jian's novel Beijing Coma for last Sunday's New York Times Book Review. The book describes in great detail the 1989 student uprising in Tiananmen Square, and it is "not only an extraordinarily effective novel," Row says, "but also an important political statement, appearing as it does immediately before the 2008 Olympics and a year before the 20th anniversary of the June 4 massacre."