Last night, a varied lineup of terrific writers celebrated the journal and helped us raise money to keep it going. The benefit was recorded, and I’ll link to the audio here after it becomes available. In the meantime, here’s a short recap.
After an introduction from M Mark, the journal’s editor, Francine Prose and Lydia Davis began the evening by reading translated pieces from PEN America 6: Metamorphoses: Prose read “Canned Foreign,” by Yoko Tawada, translated by Susan Bernofsky, and Lydia Davis read “Borges and I,” by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by James Irby. Both Prose and Davis are terrific readers, and they each captured the sly intelligence and wit of their respective readings.
They were followed by Edward Albee and Sarah Ruhl, who together read a comic scene from Petr Zelenka’s play Theremin that was published in PEN America 8: Making Histories. Albee introduced Ruhl as a “fine American dramatist,” then added, “I also write plays,” before launching into his spirited interpretation of Léon Sergeivich Theremin.
Albee and Ruhl were followed by Ron Chernow, who commented briefly on the PEN Prison Writing Program before reading a lyrical excerpt from “Hook Island Traveler,” by Chris Everley, which is in our most recent issue.
Nathan Englander and Deborah Eisenberg came out together -- in symbolic honor of PEN’s commitment to fostering literary fellowhip -- and read pieces by George Saunders (“Realist Fiction”) and Etgar Keret (“Rachamim and the Worm Man (An Evil Story),” which will be in issue #10), two smart and funny writers whose conversation with each other was published in Making Histories.
To close the evening, André Aciman read from “Baghdad, Damascus, Atlanta,” an essay by Ahmed Ali, and Anthony Appiah read two poems by Fady Joudah before thanking everyone for coming and making an eloquent argument for the importance of PEN’s mission and the journal’s role in forwarding it.Great thanks to all the readers and everyone who joined us.