Letter from the Director
After a highly successful 2015 Festival where we presented some of sub-Saharan Africa’s most remarkable writers, activists, and artists, we have chosen once more to give the Festival a regional theme. This year, we highlight Mexico, a country where much complex, rich, and inspiring literature is being produced, some of it under difficult political circumstances, and much of it without reaching the audience it deserves in the United States.
The 2016 PEN World Voices Festival features a wide array of Mexico’s intellectual players: poets, writers, investigative journalists, and visual artists. Their work shapes the country’s intellectual landscape. The 2016 Mexican lineup is co-curated by Sabina Berman, one of Mexico’s most versatile and celebrated writers. With this festival, we seek to address not just Mexico’s story, but the combined stories of Mexico and the U.S., renegotiating our joint narrative. This seems especially urgent at a time when the remarkable accomplishments of Latinos have been called into question in American political discourse. To bring these shared narratives to life in New York, we are partnering with Instituto Cervantes New York as a special Festival hub on numerous events. The Festival makes it clear how much we stand to learn from our neighbors to the south, and how deeply we are committed to their place in American society and in our collective imagination.
We hope that attending these events will open your mind to new understandings about Mexico’s cultural and political zeniths and nadirs. These programs will give you privileged access to the ways Mexican intellectuals are dealing with their country’s impressive achievements and formidable challenges. In addition to writers from Mexico and the United States, the 2016 Festival will host artists from the Netherlands, Cuba, Israel, Russia, Japan, Poland, France, Turkey, El Salvador, Hungary, and many other countries.
Joining their Mexican and American colleagues, these writers will read from their work and participate in debates and discussions to demonstrate once more that literature is an often beautiful means to communicate truths that might otherwise remain unseen.
Join us to celebrate the freedom not only to write, but also to read and hear!
László Jakab Orsós Colm Tóibín Andrew Solomon Suzanne Nossel
Festival Director Festival Chair PEN President Executive Director