World Voices Festival Reading List book coversFirst launched in response to the 9/11 attacks, the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature was convened in the spirit of acknowledging the power of stories and storytelling to unite us across divisions and borders. The theme for this year’s World Voices Festival, “Power to the People,” is a phrase that dates back to the 1960s, a time of reckoning and revolution. It continues to resonate in our current moment, when so many of us are contending with the question of how to challenge and reframe the histories underlying today’s inequities.

This year, as we gather virtually to celebrate the works of fiction and nonfiction writers, poets, translators, thinkers, and activists, we’re also mindful of the incalculable losses and griefs of this moment, as well as the resilience and reconciliation that are possible when we can harness the power of radical imagination.

The books in this reading list push boundaries and challenge inherited narratives. From Randa Jarrar’s exuberant cross-country memoir, to Robert Jones Jr.’s stirring novel about the love between two enslaved men, the voices and characters in these works interrogate where power comes from, while rejecting the systems of oppression they face. We hope you’ll check out each of these titles and also join us for the virtual festival. Check out the full lineup, and see the rest of the books being featured in this year’s festival.