2013 – Three Questions: Festival Director Jakab Orsos talks about Art, Bravery, and Sonia Sotomayor
The festival has grown and evolved under the leadership of Festival Director, Laszlo Jakab Orsos. In the midst of finalizing an ambitious program and welcoming writers from around the world, Orsos found time to answer our questions.
A Conversation about a Conversation: Ian McEwan talks with Steven Pinker or Does He?
'Gretta, dear, what are you thinking about?' She did not answer nor yield wholly to his arms. He said again, softly: 'Tell me what it is, Gretta. I think I know what is the matter. Do I know?' - James Joyce, The Dead
We’re going to have a conversation about conversation.
Ai Weiwei: Weiwei-isms, Edited by Larry Warsh
Car Bombs on the West Side, Journalists Uptown
Diaries of Exile – Yannis Ritsos: Leaf’s Shadow
Yannis Ritsos’s poems written between 1948 and 1950 during and just after the Greek Civil war – collected and translated by Karen Emmerich and Edmund Keeley – offer glimpses into the daily routines of life in exile, the quiet violence Ritsos and his fellow prisoners endured, the fluctuations in the prisoners’ sense of solidarity, and their struggle to maintain humanity through language.
Everything is Complicated – An Interview with Nadia Kalman
From the very beginning, Nadia Kalman’s The Cosmopolitans had me thinking about divides—generational and cultural—that occur in immigrant families. As may often happen within these families, a shared past binds the present and the future too loosely, creating awkward and sometimes comical moments between parents and their children. For Kalman, whose family emigrated from the former Soviet Union to the United States when she was a child, such moments were plentiful, it seems—and she skillfully draws upon them to deliver a novel that is equal parts hilarious and bold in its portrayal of the Molochniks, a Russian-Jewish ...
Evolution/ Revolution: The First Night of PEN World Voices Festival, April 30, 2009
First Editions, Second Thoughts
Found Poetry – A Wishing Poem
Georgian Writer David Dephy’s Second Skin
His love of the written word is contagious, encouraging our WRR staff to quote Edgar Allen Poe’s “Raven” with equal gusto. “While I wonder weak and weary,” Joy Stocke, WRR’s Editor in Chief, continues. Dephy, originally from Tbilisi, Georgia, arrived in New York City after being personally invited by Laszlo Jakab Orsos, the Director of PEN American Center. Dephy agreed whole-heartedly to read his work,
In Spite of the Gun: Remembering Ken Saro-wiwa, Nigerian Writer and Activist
The 2009 PEN World Voices event on writer and activist Ken Saro-wiwa’s life and legacy opened with a reading from his play, The Transistor Radio. Candor, humor, and conscientiousness leaped from the pages—and along with them, a dark glimpse into the despair and desperation in the lives of Saro-wiwa’s Nigerian characters.
Interview – Laszlo Jakab Orsos: Written on Water
“What writers and literature can do for the world is to not be afraid, It is our vision at PEN and our responsibility to examine the role of the public intellectual and what he or she can and should do for the world.” - Laszlo Jakab Orsos, Director, PEN American Center World Voices Festival
Literature, Life and Death: On the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture by Umberto Eco
At the start of the evening, Francine Prose, President of PEN American Center, introduced Umberto Eco and Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker who was to conduct an on-stage interview with Eco after his lecture. Once at the podium, Eco seemed modest, humbly giving due regard to his friend Arthur Miller after whom the lecture series is named. He also quickly clarified that the literature he was about to talk about was “fiction,” a distinction that would have been necessary in Europe, but not so much in America where one often assumes that literature involves fictive text.
Marjane Satrapi on the Graphic Novel, Family History, and Adventures in Cinema
As a twenty-something art student living in Paris, Marjane Satrapi considered a number of odd jobs before deciding to write graphic novels. For a brief time, she imagined herself as a private detective, then as a headhunter (the gun-toting kind), and finally as a furs saleswoman on the Champs-Élysées.
Myth, Magic, and the Mind of Neil Gaiman
New York City – Parade of Illuminations
Laszlo Jakab Orsos: The city is very receptive to a literary festival. I’ve also learned that New York City is sadly lacking an affordable venue where a festival like this should take place. This forces us to work with different venues, which is a curse and a blessing at the same time. But more importantly I’ve learned that people like to engage in important matters and they show up at even the most unusual settings to be able to hear disturbing and inspiring ideas.
ON AFRICA: Behind the Scenes with Director Jakab Orsos
On Reading and Writing in the Future and Now – Blogs, Twitter, and the Kindle
Why not dabble?
On Something Else – Words have Wings, Words Have Feet: Edwidge Danticat and John Freeman in Conversation
On the High Line: Diamonds on the Soles of Our Shoes
At the Highline’s Gansevoort Street entrance, among dogwoods, grasses, and the last of Spring's daffodils, Executive Editor Kim Nagy and I gathered with young couples and their toddlers, middle aged couples, artists, and the curious. We were about to become part of the first PEN American Center World Voices Festival of World Literature High Line Karma Chain.
PEN American Center Presents Stand Up for Freedom
Enjoy an evening of political comedy and commentary as New York’s top progressive performers joke, jab, rant, vent, prod, provoke and revel in their right to express themselves at a one-night comedy event celebrating freedom of expression. Who says freedom of expression has to be serious?
Poetry – 21 Ritual Kisses
Power of Conversation
“ This book was such an act of choosing life.” David Grossman on finishing writing his latest book To the End of the Land after his son was killed in the Lebanon War in 2006.
ROLEX ARTS INITIATIVE-Poet Tracy K. Smith: Memory, Creation, Mentoring, and Mastery
Shape-Shifter: In Istanbul with Metis Publisher Muge Sokmen
The Future is Now: Opening Night at the 11th Annual PEN World Voices Festival
May 4, 2015, marked the launch of the eleventh annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature. We attended the opening night event, The Future Is Now, a panel of ten writers from around the world. Each writer presented their best-case and worst-case scenarios for the world in 2050.
The Pen Cabaret 2008: Bowery Ballroom
-Emcee Nona aka New Yorker cartoonist Victoria Roberts -Musician/Poet Oliver Lake Chinese Poet Huang Xiang -Argentinian/Uraguayan Novelist, Carlos Maria Dominguez -Poet, Saul Williams -Playwrigt/Actor, Sam Shepard -Poet/Musician/Activist, Patti Smith
Tonight We Rest Here: An Interview with Saadi Youssef
Considered by many to be the greatest living Arabic poet, Youssef speaks quietly and deliberately, as if each word holds the weight of his lifetime. Around his neck, hangs a gold pendant: a map of Iraq.
Tourist Don’t Take My Picture: More from PEN World Voices
Wild River, Green Thoughts
Eleven writers including Geert Mak, Gary Shteyngart, Roxana Robinson, Moses Isegawa, Billy Collins, Janne Teller, Colson Whitehead, Jonathan Franzen, Pico Iyer, Marilynne Robinson, and Salman Rushdie, stood at the podium at Cooper Union Great Hall in New York City tonight to read about the subject of the natural world.