New online reading group: PEN Reads

This week PEN American Center announced the creation of PEN Reads, an online reading group that will focus on books connected in some way with PEN’s mission—to protect free expression and promote international literary fellowship. The discussion will be built around short essays by writers, translators, scholars, and others, and participation will be open to anyone.

The short essays will be posted at www.PEN.org/PENReads, and readers will be able to comment on each post, participating in a conversation with the discussion’s contributors and with each other.

The first book chosen for PEN Reads is The Hour of the Star, a short, classic novel by the Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector, who lived from 1920 to 1977 (that’s her above, in Paris in 1947; photograph by Bluma Wainer). The book was translated from the Portuguese by Giovanni Pontiero. Here, in English, is how it begins:
Everything in the world began with a yes. One molecule said yes to another molecule and life was born. But before prehistory there was the prehistory of prehistory and there was the never and there was the yes. It was ever so. I do not know why, but I do know that the universe never began.
You can read more here. And you can read an excerpt from Benjamin Moser’s biography of Spector (the NBCC Award-nominated Why This World) here.

Moser will be participating in the online discussion, which will be kicked off Tuesday, July 6 at noon with a contribution from the great Irish novelist Colm Tóibín.