This year sees the ninth edition of the PEN World Voices Festival. Nine years is a substantial amount of time in the life span of an art festival, and we hope—in fact, we know—that by now PEN World Voices Festival has left its mark on New York, and is transforming New Yorkers’ way of thinking of literature.
Each year, we bring remarkable writers, journalists, philosophers from all over the world to our City, where we discuss and debate some of the most sensitive issues of our lives today. We do this because we at PEN profoundly believe that the most important and most riveting force that literature and art engender is the ability to question and debate with the world. When writers from all over the world talk about their lives and art, they take us to unknown—though not always pleasant—territories.
And so, in the early weeks of spring, we join forces with writers, artists, and organizations in order to amplify PEN American Center’s credo: we deeply believe in individual freedom, freedom of expression, and first amendment rights as the foundation of a fuller and better life. A free, committed, and responsible life is a fundamental right and the duty of all citizens of the world.
This year, the Festival will discuss the notion of bravery in art, in politics, and in our everyday lives. We are bringing together Sonia Sotomayor, Eduardo Galeano, James Kelman, Claudio Magris, Fran Lebowitz, Sapphire, Pierre Michon, Jamaica Kincaid, and others to New York City for readings, performances, and conversations.
Additionally, we present to you writers and journalists from South Africa, Haiti, Palestine, Russia, Uruguay, Hungary, Germany, Wales, France, Burma—to name just a few. We’ll inaugurate an annual series in which we feature an endangered language. You are invited to join us in discussing the most important issues regarding disappearing languages; navigate the Endangered Language Alliance’s website, dedicated to the phenomenon of protecting indigenous languages; and listen to the perhaps unfamiliar sound of Welsh and Cherokee.
Join us to listen to the work of Palestinian poets from the diaspora, and to hear their thoughts on the most important issues of their lives. Enjoy an event with celebrated poets and writers as they discuss their selection of brave poets. Let your own personal bravery be inspired through listening to the recitation of truthful, courageous work.
Whether you attend one of the readings with inspiring literary journals, including McSweeney`s, Cabinet, Jacobin, Granta, and Guernica, or take in a staged debate on democracy—featuring Ai Weiwei, Cornel West, Naomi Klein, or Peter Nadas—we can assure you that this year`s Festival will provide you with enough rich food for thought, inspiring questions, and philosophical meanderings for an entire year, until we meet again in 2014.
And don’t forget: without literature, it’s all just words!
Peter Godwin, President
Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director
Jakab Orsós, World Voices Festival and Public Programs Director
Salman Rushdie, Festival Founder