Benefit on Tuesday, and other news

A reminder: André Aciman, Edward Albee, Anthony Appiah, Ron Chernow, Lydia Davis, Deborah Eisenberg, Nathan Englander, Francine Prose, Sarah Ruhl, and others will be at Cooper Union this Tuesday at 7 p.m. Readings from PEN America will be followed by a reception. We'd love to see you there.

Tickets here, full info here.

If you have not already signed the petition to free Liu Xiaobo -- prominent dissident writer and former president and current board member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, who has been detained since December -- please consider doing so.

Margaret Atwood, a Vice President of International PEN, has pulled out of an international book festival in Dubai, after the festival director cancelled the formal launch there of The Gulf Between Us, "a romantic comedy by the English writer Geraldine Bedell which is set in a fictional Gulf emirate." The book features a gay relationship, and the festival director believes it "could offend certain cultural sensitivities."

The Best Translated Book Awards have been announced. Tranquility by Attila Bartis, translated from the Hungarian by Imre Goldstein and published by Archipelago Books, won the fiction award, and the nod in poetry went to the wonderfully titled For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnut by Takashi Hiraide, translated from the Japanese by Sawako Nakayasu and published by New Directions.

Also at the Open Letter blog, Chad Post notes this story, via Language Log, about the 20-year prison sentences given to two men in Kabul for publishing a translation of the Quran in an Afghan language without including the original Arabic verses. The owner of the print shop that published the book received 15 months in months in prison, which he has already served, reduced from an original five-year sentence.

Update: Jane Ciabattari, PEN member and NBCC president, talks with M Mark, the editor of PEN America, here, on the occasion of the benefit and the awarding of the NBCC's Sandrof award for lifetime achievement to PEN American Center.

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