Friday event for PEN America 14: The Good Books

As I mentioned last week, the first copies of PEN America 14: The Good Books arrived in New York today. We'll have excerpts to read online after the festival is over, but if you're in New York, you'll find copies at select World Voices events -- including "The Great Global Book Swap," a reading and conversation we're holding on Friday in connection with the new issue.

For the Friday event, Leila Aboulela, Nathacha Appanah, Mario Bellatín, and Rahul Bhattacharya have chosen books they read in translation that meant a great deal to them as readers and writers. They will read short excerpts from their selections and discuss why they chose the books they did -- and we'll also discuss the larger subject of literature in translation around the world. Collectively, our Friday panelists have lived in France, India, Mexico, Mauritius, Qatar, Scotland, Sudan, and at least one or two other places as well.

This is a live version of our new issue's forum, in which over 50 writers (among them: Madison Smartt Bell, Amitava Kumar, Yiyun Li, Karen Russell, Lynne Tillman, and many more) imagine they've been invited to a great global book swap, and must bring one book in translation. There are many wonderful choices beautifully explained, and we'll be sharing a number of those pieces here and at PEN.org in the weeks to come.

In the meantime, I hope you can join us on Friday. Here are the full details:

When: Friday, April 29
Where: Scandinavia House, 58 Park Ave., New York City
What time: 2–3:30 p.m.

With Leila Aboulela, Nathacha Appanah, Mario Bellatín, and Rahul Bhattacharya
Free and open to the public. No reservations required.

Co-sponsored by Scandinavia House and
PEN America

Imagine you are invited to a great global book swap and have to bring just one beloved book originally written in a foreign tongue: what would it be? Join five eminent writers who have trotted the globe and lived everywhere from Mexico to Mauritius, India to Sudan, for a reading and a talk about the works of translation that enriched and changed their lives.


PEN World Voices next week!

Issue #14 of PEN America will arrive on Monday -- with copies going out to subscribers, PEN members, and bookstores shortly after -- along with news here about all the great stuff that's in it. In the meantime, a few highlights from the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, happening in New York City all next week.

These are ticketed events with limited seating, so if you're interested you should act soon. There are also many free events, next week; have a look at the whole schedule.


Revolutionaries in the Arab World

Wednesday, April 27, 7:30 p.m.
92nd Street Y, Unterberg Poetry Center

Hear from experts and on-the-ground bloggers how social media and citizen journalism galvanize the revolution. In the borderless world of the Internet, where revolutionary ideas spread at lightning speed, will other despotic regimes collapse? Which ones? And how does an autocracy transition into a democracy, and at what cost? Alex Nunns, editor of Tweets from Tahrir -- a collection of key tweets from the activists who brought heady days of revolution to Egypt in early 2011 -- will be joined by Palestinian author/journalist Rula Jebreal (Miral), blogger Issandr El Amrani (The Arabist), Moroccan writer Abdellah Taia, and Moroccan-Dutch writer Adbelkader Benali to tackle these urgent questions.

Tickets: $20/$15 PEN Members, students with valid ID.


China in Two Acts

Thursday, April 28, 7 p.m.
The Cooper Union, Great Hall

Born in Beijing and educated in the United States, New Yorker contributor Zha Jianying delivers unique insight into the rapidly changing world inside China, including the plights of the country's best-known artist Ai Wei Wei and Nobel peace Prize winner and political prisoner Liu Xiaobo. In a 30-minute presentation, Zha sheds light on the polarized political order and the cultural forces that are shaping the world’s most populous nation. Following Zha’s remarks, a panel of journalists and writers join her on stage for a lively debate of her assertions.

Tickets: $15/$10 PEN Members, students with valid ID.

Note: The Chinese governemnt has barred Liao Yiwu from attending the festival. Read more here.


Poetry: The Second Skin
Friday, April 29, 7:30 pm
92nd Street Y, Unterberg Poetry Center

An evening of poetry and music curated and emceed by Laurie Anderson. With a stellar line-up of international poets, including John Burnside (Scotland), Ernesto Cardenal (Nicaragua), David-Dephy Gogibedashvili (Georgia), Hasina Gul (Pakistan), Yusef Komunyakaa (US), Juan Carlos Mestre (Spain), Joachim Sartorius (Germany), and Pia Tafdrup (Denmark).

Tickets: $25/$20 PEN and PSA Members, students with valid ID.