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Welcome to the 2020 digital World Voices Festival, These Truths.

The PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature traditionally brings hundreds of writers from around the world to New York and Los Angeles each spring, drawing audiences of thousands to book talks, readings, and lectures. With those in-person events now impossible to convene, PEN America has curated an ongoing digital version of the Festival that includes a suite of podcasts, videos, interviews, and musical playlists, with live events and other features to be rolled out over the coming weeks.

In an era when the agreed-upon factual basis of our daily news is constantly undermined, there has never been a greater need for us to hear the deeper truths afforded by literature. This virtual edition of America’s premier international literary festival will engage with contested histories and memory, challenge the fabrications of truth served to us on an almost daily basis, and celebrate the beauty and power of storytelling.

What’s New

Writers in Residence: Basically Delicious with Jennifer Egan

Writers in Residence: Basically Delicious with Jennifer Egan

PEN America President and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jennifer Egan shares her crowd-pleasing salad dressing recipe for this holiday weekend.
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These Truths: Realizing a New Theatre with Lynn Nottage and Jeremy O. Harris

These Truths: Realizing a New Theatre with Lynn Nottage and Jeremy O. Harris

With Broadway shuttering until 2021, what will theatre look like amidst a pandemic and cultural uprising? Award-winning Black playwrights Lynn Nottage and Jeremy O. Harris help us imagine a new future for theatre in our final podcast this season. 
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Indie Lit Fair, Vol. Five

Indie Lit Fair, Vol. Five

Learn more about presses, publishers, and literary magazines like 53rd State Press, Apogee Journal, and DSTL Arts in this fifth installment of the virtual edition of this year's Indie Lit Fair.
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Let’s Be Human(e): A World Voices Festival Reading List from Ananda Naima González

Let’s Be Human(e): A World Voices Festival Reading List from Ananda Naima González

Ananda Naima González shares a book list containing works that claw into your heart, seeking to discover what it means to be human(e).
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Editor’s Picks

PEN to Paper: Embellishing Memory with Porsha Olayiwola

PEN to Paper: Embellishing Memory with Porsha Olayiwola

Poet and performer Porsha Olayiwola guides us through a brief but intensive workshop about memory and omission.
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Next Generation Now Virtual Storytime with Kevin Noble Maillard

Next Generation Now Virtual Storytime with Kevin Noble Maillard

Kevin Noble Maillard depicts a modern Native American family as they explore the cultural significance of a favorite dish in lively and powerful verse.
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These Truths: Ben Okri’s The Freedom Artist with Anderson Tepper

These Truths: Ben Okri’s The Freedom Artist with Anderson Tepper

Novelist, poet, playwright, essayist and short story writer, Ben Okri speaks with Anderson Tepper, member of the editorial staff of Vanity Fair, about his latest novel, The Freedom Artist.
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Writers in Residence: Stitch in This Time with Elisabeth Åsbrink

Writers in Residence: Stitch in This Time with Elisabeth Åsbrink

Elisabeth Åsbrink shows us how she uses embroidery to create beautiful patterns that tell their own stories.
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These Truths: Exploring literature and the deeper truths that connect us

The World Voices podcast convenes important writers to debate the most central questions of our time, like the meaning of freedom in a post-truth age and the vulnerability of language in a time of tyranny.

These Truths: Navigating Truths with Ishmael Beah and Alexis Okeowo

These Truths: Navigating Truths with Ishmael Beah and Alexis Okeowo

Sierra Leonean-American author Ishmael Beah and The New Yorker staff writer Alexis Okeowo discuss how fiction can help us navigate some of the most unrelenting humanitarian crises of our age.
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These Truths: Round and Round Together with Fatima Shaik, Amy Nathan, and Sharon Langley

These Truths: Round and Round Together with Fatima Shaik, Amy Nathan, and Sharon Langley

Fatima Shaik speaks with Amy Nathan and Sharon Langley about their picture book, A Ride to Remember: A Civil Rights Story, about how a community came together to integrate a public park and its carousel.
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These Truths: Realizing a New Theatre with Lynn Nottage and Jeremy O. Harris

These Truths: Realizing a New Theatre with Lynn Nottage and Jeremy O. Harris

With Broadway shuttering until 2021, what will theatre look like amidst a pandemic and cultural uprising? Award-winning Black playwrights Lynn Nottage and Jeremy O. Harris help us imagine a new future for theatre in our final podcast this season. 
Read More
These Truths: Prison & Justice Writing with Reginald Dwayne Betts

These Truths: Prison & Justice Writing with Reginald Dwayne Betts

Poet Reginald Dwayne Betts discusses the writer’s role in deepening the American public’s understanding of mass incarceration with our Prison and Justice Writing Program.
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Just Press Play: Writers you read bring you the music they love

From the balconies of Milan to the speakers of our smartphones, these playlists from writers around the world remind us all that music, like books, can connect humanity from a distance.

Just Press Play with Roya Marsh

Just Press Play with Roya Marsh

Poet, performer, educator, and activist Roya Marsh, author of a new poetry collection, dayliGht, curates a playlist that allows her—and hopefully, you, too—to feel all kinds of things.
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Just Press Play with Natalie Diaz

Just Press Play with Natalie Diaz

2018 MacArthur Foundation Fellow Natalie Diaz, author of the poetry collections When My Brother Was an Aztec and most recently, Postcolonial Love Poem, shares a playlist inviting us into her home.
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Just Press Play with Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Just Press Play with Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Maurice Carlos Ruffin, author of We Cast a Shadow, a finalist for the 2020 PEN/Open Book Award, shares a soundtrack to his life.
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Just Press Play with Hari Kunzru

Just Press Play with Hari Kunzru

Hari Kunzru, 2018 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award finalist for his novel, White Tears, shares a playlist to facilitate meditative writing.
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PEN to Paper: An espresso shot of creative inspiration from your favorite writers

Each workshop provides a single, unique exercise to jumpstart your writing practice. Through these videos, our audiences gain brief, intimate connections to their favorite writers and exclusive insights into their craft.

PEN to Paper: Authentic Voices with James Hannaham

PEN to Paper: Authentic Voices with James Hannaham

Our final PEN to Paper episode features multidisciplinary artist and PEN/Faulkner Award-winning novelist James Hannaham on how to write authentic characters.
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PEN to Paper: Hot Tips from Mona Simpson

PEN to Paper: Hot Tips from Mona Simpson

Novelist Mona Simpson believes writing is a constant practice, and to help you nurture yours, she shares five tips, plenty of helpful anecdotes, and even some musical inspiration in this wide-ranging episode.
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PEN to Paper: The Revision Cycle with Emily X. R. Pan

PEN to Paper: The Revision Cycle with Emily X. R. Pan

YA author Emily X. R. Pan takes us on a deep dive into her favorite part of writing, the revision process, which she proves is more fun than you might think.
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PEN to Paper: Writing Through Intuition with Ananda Naima González

PEN to Paper: Writing Through Intuition with Ananda Naima González

Ananda Naima González helps us achieve total freedom from the conventions of literary expression through “asemic writing.”
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Writers in Residence: A slice of life from beyond the writing desk

Explore life beyond the writing desk in this home video series, which introduces audiences to writers’ interior lives and hidden talents in a time of quarantine.

Writers in Residence: Basically Delicious with Jennifer Egan

Writers in Residence: Basically Delicious with Jennifer Egan

PEN America President and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jennifer Egan shares her crowd-pleasing salad dressing recipe for this holiday weekend.
Read More
Writers in Residence: Digging in the Country with Jan Stocklassa

Writers in Residence: Digging in the Country with Jan Stocklassa

Swedish author and self-proclaimed arm-chair detective Jan Stocklassa speaks to us from the country, where he’s digging into research for his next project and taking editorial notes from an unlikely source.
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Writers in Residence: Preserving Memories with Si’an CHEN

Writers in Residence: Preserving Memories with Si’an CHEN

Si’an CHEN shares a simple process for preserving specimens of the natural world that delight and inspire her.
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Writers in Residence: A Poem-From-Home with Oksana Vasyakina

Writers in Residence: A Poem-From-Home with Oksana Vasyakina

Poet Oksana Vasyakina invites us into her study, where she shares her latest piece, “These people didn’t know my father.”
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Virtual Story Times

In these virtual storytimes from our Next Generation Now series, writers read aloud stories that captivate the imagination of kids, teens and young adults.

Next Generation Now Virtual Storytime with Mae Respicio

Next Generation Now Virtual Storytime with Mae Respicio

Middle grade author Mae Respicio shares a reading and writing prompt inspired by her newest book, Any Day with You, in which a girl uses her creativity to keep her family together.
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Next Generation Now Virtual Storytime with Kevin Noble Maillard

Next Generation Now Virtual Storytime with Kevin Noble Maillard

Kevin Noble Maillard depicts a modern Native American family as they explore the cultural significance of a favorite dish in lively and powerful verse.
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Next Generation Now Virtual Storytime with Isaac Fitzgerald

Next Generation Now Virtual Storytime with Isaac Fitzgerald

Isaac Fitzgerald shares the empowering and heartwarming tale of a child who feels like a misfit and becomes a pirate instead.
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Next Generation Now Virtual Storytime with Nic Stone

Next Generation Now Virtual Storytime with Nic Stone

Middle grade and young adult fiction author Nic Stone shares one of her favorite passages from Dear Justyce, the sequel to her New York Times best-selling novel, Dear Martin.
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Indie Lit Fair: Showcasing the breadth of independent magazines and presses our country has to offer

The Community of Literary Magazines and Publishers’ annual book fair at the World Voices Festival goes digital in these weekly reading lists featuring independent presses and small publishers.

Indie Lit Fair, Vol. Five

Indie Lit Fair, Vol. Five

Learn more about presses, publishers, and literary magazines like 53rd State Press, Apogee Journal, and DSTL Arts in this fifth installment of the virtual edition of this year's Indie Lit Fair.
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Indie Lit Fair, Vol. Four

Indie Lit Fair, Vol. Four

Presses, publishers, literary magazines, and more share discounts and highlights from their favorite titles in this fourth installment of the virtual edition of this year's Indie Lit Fair.
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Indie Lit Fair, Vol. Three

Indie Lit Fair, Vol. Three

Presses, publishers, and literary magazines including Barrelhouse, Nightboat Books, Shade Mountain Press, and more share discounts and highlights from their favorite titles in this third installment of the virtual edition of this year's Indie Lit Fair.
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Indie Lit Fair, Vol. Two

Indie Lit Fair, Vol. Two

Learn more about presses, publishers, and literary magazines like Hanging Loose Press, Indolent Books, and Please See Me in this second installment of the virtual edition of this year's Indie Lit Fair.
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World Voices Festival Partnerships

WVF2018 TranslationSlam

Translating the Future

The art of translation takes center stage in this weekly series of virtual talks, marking the 50th anniversary of PEN America’s historic World of Translation conference.

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Kamau Brathwaite

A Celebration of Kamau Brathwaite

In this tribute to the late Kamau Brathwaite, one of the great poet-thinkers of our time, acclaimed writers Honor Ford-Smith, Aracelis Girmay, M. NourbeSe Philip, Roger Guenveur Smith, and Christian Campbell celebrate his 90th birthday with readings, remembrances, and conversation about his legacy.

SEE EVENT

Interviews: The PEN Ten

The PEN Ten: An Interview with Jean Kyoung Frazier

The PEN Ten: An Interview with Jean Kyoung Frazier

“I’ve never been great at imagining my future self and the things she may want, things that will be good for her, but each year that goes by, I do feel like I get to know myself a little bit better.”
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The PEN Ten: An Interview with Mark Doty

The PEN Ten: An Interview with Mark Doty

“Poetry constructs communities across space and time by showing us our common ground. And it reminds us that words are more than just little packages of information.”
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The PEN Ten: An Interview with Megha Majumdar

The PEN Ten: An Interview with Megha Majumdar

“Stories help us imagine what it is like to be another person—to strive as they do, to cope as they do, to celebrate as they do—and that’s a vital task of imagination.”
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The PEN Ten: An Interview with Zaina Arafat

The PEN Ten: An Interview with Zaina Arafat

“So much of my writing is informed by my identity as a queer woman of color and a desire to combat that invisibility and erasure.”
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Further Reading

Let’s Be Human(e): A World Voices Festival Reading List from Ananda Naima González

Let’s Be Human(e): A World Voices Festival Reading List from Ananda Naima González

Ananda Naima González shares a book list containing works that claw into your heart, seeking to discover what it means to be human(e).
Read More
Alternative Childhoods: A World Voices Festival Reading List from Andrés Barba

Alternative Childhoods: A World Voices Festival Reading List from Andrés Barba

Writer Andrés Barba shares a few of his favorite books by authors who have taken on the immense task and risk of portraying childhood in their writing.
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Black Literature – Past, Present, and Future: A Reading List

Black Literature – Past, Present, and Future: A Reading List

This week’s reading list features a mix of classic and contemporary novels, essay collections, and poetry collections from Black authors.
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Into the Streets: Writers Recommend Books of Protest

Into the Streets: Writers Recommend Books of Protest

As protest rights are threatened around the country, we turn to books that demonstrate the power and importance of taking action and speaking out.
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Become a World Voices Festival Insider

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About the PEN World Voices Festival

The PEN World Voices Literary Festival is the premier celebration of international literature in the United States, a landmark event on New York City’s, and now Los Angeles’s, cultural calendar. Each spring, the Festival presents writers from the United States and around the world in a week of cross-cultural exchanges and events—from lively debates that delve into the most pressing issues of our time, to intimate conversations that awaken us to the quiet beauty and power of literature. An engaging program of talks, panels, conversations, and performances draws a vibrant and diverse crowd of socially engaged and intellectually curious New Yorkers and LA audiences, who are eager to be challenged, inspired, and entertained.

PEN America thanks the following sponsors for their support of the 2020 PEN World Voices Festival:

The National Endowment for the Arts
New York State Council on the Arts
The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs
The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (New York City)
Amazon Literary Partnership
The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation
Acton Family Giving

Join Us

Becoming a PEN America Member today means becoming a supporter of the PEN World Voices Festival. Sign up now as a reader or writer Member and join thousands across the country in defending our freedom of expression.