This recording comes from the PEN America Archives. Consisting of over 1800 hours of audio and video material, the PEN America Archives showcase the intersection of literature and free expression through the voices of some of the most prominent writers, intellectuals, and activists from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and in collaboration with Princeton University, the archives not only illustrate the institutional trajectory of PEN America, but also highlight the voices and words of poets, essayists, novelists, and others who resist the infringement of free expression. The entirety of the PEN America Archives will be made available online to the public this summer.

In this recording from the 2005 PEN America event “State of Emergency: Readings Against Torture, Arbitrary Detention, and Extraordinary Rendition,” Colson Whitehead reads from the novel Blindness by José Saramago, who died seven years ago this week.