PEN Reads starts today + other links

PEN Reads has begun with this short essay by Colm Tóibín. Check it out and weigh in with your own thoughts. And if you haven’t already, get a copy of The Hour of the Star and stay tuned to PEN.org/PENReads for more in the weeks ahead. (It’s a short book so you needn’t worry too much about falling behind—or resort to watching the movie... though apparently it’s pretty good?)

The Rumpus also has a book club and until Friday they’re giving away free books.

Also via The Rumpus: Etgar Keret (beloved contributor to PEN America) describes for the online magazine Tablet his practice of writing fake dedications. When “a total stranger” asks you to sign a book, he says, what can you write that doesn't sound smarmy or false? Which leads him to this conclusion: “If the books themselves are pure fiction, why should the dedications be true?” One book he inscribes: “To Avram. I don’t care what the lab tests show. For me, you’ll always be my dad.” And in another, which someone has asked him to sign for his girlfriend, Keret writes: “Bosmat, though you’re with another guy now, we both know you’ll come back to me in the end.”

Keret’s countryman and fellow short-short story writer Alex Epstein has just published in the United States a collection of his really wonderful stories (translated by Becka Mara McKay)—ten of which were featured in PEN America 12: Correspondences. Words Without Borders has both a review of the book and a video interview with Epstein. He participated in the PEN World Voices Festival this year, so you can also watch him converse with Norman Rush, Claire Messud, et al; listen to him discuss the short story with Aleksandar Hemon, Yiyun Li, and others; and hear him participate in the PEN Translation Slam.

And you can read the stories we published in PEN America 12: Correspondences. Here’s the shortest one:

In ’83, the horoscopes are never wrong. After ten years, she moves the rotary telephone from the living room into the bedroom. Every morning, upon waking, she lifts the receiver and listens to whispering and rustling and rattling, as at a window. Maybe this is time, suddenly returning. Maybe this is rain. Maybe this is already her mother tongue.
Read the others here.

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