The launch event for PEN America 14: The Good Books is now online. Colum McCann kicked it off by reading Rabih Alameddine’s lovely contribution to the forum, in which Rabih imagines bringing The Book of Disquiet to a hotel in Lisbon.
After Colum’s reading, I spoke to Leila Aboulela, Nathacha Appanah, and Rahul Bhattacharya about the books each of them would bring to their own imaginary book swaps. Leila brought Tayeb Salih’s The Wedding of Zein (which she has read multiple times in both Arabic and English—sometimes wanting to read it in one language, sometimes preferring the other), Nathacha brought Beyond Despair, three lectures by Aharon Appelfeld (who, as Nathacha noted, was born in what is now the Ukraine with German as his first language but chose to write in Hebrew), and Rahul brought Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel García Márquez (Rahul’s reading of the book's conclusion was one of the highlights of the event).
You can watch the whole thing below:
You can also now order both the print edition and the Kindle edition of PEN America 14: The Good Books. Stay tuned for highlights from the issue, coming soon.