• Home

Incognito: Writers and their Aliases


April 30, 2010 | Elebash Recital Hall, CUNY Graduate Center | New York City 

 With Bernardo Atxaga, Alina Bronsky, and Randa Jarrar; moderated by Arnon Grunberg


Co-sponsored by the Martin E. Segal Theatre, The Graduate Center, CUNY

LISTEN | Download the mp3

People use aliases to hide their true identity—it’s a way to remain anonymous and out of the spotlight. But in an age when being a celebrity is considered a goal in and of itself, why would an author want to mask his or her identity by writing under an alias? Alina Bronsky from Germany is not who she says she is. Bernardo Atxaga is also a nom de plume, while Randa Jarrar chose to write a fictional account of a life that very much resembles her own. Some of Arnon Grunberg’s books were written in the name of Marek van der Jagt. Together they will discuss identity and truth and might even reveal how they settled on their own particular pseudonym.

• View the photo gallery on Flickr


• Alta Ifland: “Using a pseudonym without being forced by political circumstances is narcissism”—this was the provocative statement with which the moderator, Arnon Grunberg—who writes under both his name and a pseudonym—opened the session, inviting the panelists to respond. [more]

• Lyn Miller-Lachmann: In my visits to the various agent blogs, I’ve read about pseudonyms as a solution to a bad sales history, the idea being that U.S publishers are more willing to take on a debut author than one whose previous book(s) tanked. [more]

Get the Free Speech News You Need

protesters in face masks carrying old Belarusian national flags

PEN America has a new weekly newsletter, PEN Points, bringing you a digest of the biggest free expression news of the week, plus the analysis and insights you trust from PEN America experts.