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PEN World Voices Festival underway

April 30, 2009 |  4:40 pm

World_0430
The annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature kicked off Monday and will continue until Sunday. Those of us who aren't in New York for the panels, readings and parties can keep up, luckily, with the many blogs that are following the proceedings.

PEN has 12 such blogs of its own. Dedi Felman, for example, went to see new Nobel Prize winner Jean-Marie Le Clézio as interviewed by Adam Gopnik.

In person, Le Clézio has the sharply carved features and stoic manner of an Easterner’s stereotype of an inhabitant of the American West; more Sam Shepard, perhaps, than true cowboy, but a man of the “en plein air” — outdoors — nevertheless. In Le Clézio’s enthusiastic embrace of J.D. Salinger, his kinship with non-Old World writers, his love of sun-etched landscapes, and his grounded earthiness, even his thick shoes and white socks, one imagines him perfectly at ease on a ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico (a reported origin of the Marlboro man) as on this NYC stage.... “I’m a writer. I now work in closed places. I write at a plain table in Albuquerque.”

Deji Olukotun of Fiction That Matters wrote about the panel "Prison Deform."

Four phenomenal writers gathered at the CUNY Graduate Center to discuss the relationship between writing and prison.... Hwang Sok-yong of North Korea, Khet Mar of Burma, Susan Rosenberg of the U.S., and Jose Dalisay of the Phillipines had each been incarcerated for their political beliefs.  The panel discussed the influence of prison upon their writing — and the answers were both surprising and inspirational.... When the world changes, so too must prisoners.  And they view the world with a new set of assumptions. "I had just stepped out of a smaller prison," Dalisay realized upon his release, "into a bigger one."

Many of the posts on the PEN site are detailed and thoughtful, but if you're feeling time pressure or a bit short-attention-span-y, the festival is also encouraging tweeting (with the hashtag #PWVFest). Some tweets include:

@miriamberkley: Neil Gaiman's PEN World Voices appearance has moved - more seats.

kimberlyburnspr: Of the 70+ events at PEN World Voices, one I'm super excited for is living legend Nawal El Saadawi

@TimeOutNewYork: PEN World Voices Festival: Adam Gopnik apologizes to France on behalf of Canada

— Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: FiskFisk via Flickr

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