Ahmed Naji + Molly Crabapple | PEN Out Loud

Ahmed Naji

PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write recipient Ahmed Naji joins PEN Out Loud to celebrate his new book, Rotten Evidence, translated by Katharine Halls. In February 2016, Ahmed Naji was sentenced to two years in prison for “violating public decency,” after an excerpt of his novel Using Life reportedly caused a reader to experience heart palpitations. Naji ultimately served ten months of that sentence, in a group cellblock in Cairo’s Tora Prison. Rotten Evidence is a chronicle of those months, adding a new voice to the prison memoir. Naji will be in conversation with National Book Award longlisted writer and artist Molly Crabapple.


Presented in collaboration with the Strand Book Store.

ASL interpretive services are provided by All Hands in Motion.


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Ahmed Naji is a writer, journalist, documentary filmmaker, and criminal. His novel Using Life (2014) made him the only writer in Egyptian history to have been sent to prison for offending public morality. He is also the author of the novels Tigers, Uninvited (2020) and Happy Endings (2022). Naji has won several prizes including a Dubai Press Club Award, a PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award, and an Open Eye Award. He is currently a fellow at the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute. He lives in exile in Las Vegas, where his writing continues to delight and provoke.

Molly Crabapple is an artist and writer based in New York. She is the author of two books, Drawing Blood and Brothers of the Gun (with Marwan Hisham), which was long-listed for a National Book Award in 2018. Her reportage is the 2022 winner of the Bernhard Labor Journalism Award, and has been published in The New York Times, New York Review of Books, The Paris Review, Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker and elsewhere. Her art is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art. Her animations have been nominated for three Emmys and won an Edward R. Murrow Award. Currently, she is a fellow at the Cullman Center at the New York Public Library researching the history of the Jewish Labor Bund.