Salman Rushdie and Patti Smith were just two of the many literary stars who kicked off the 2010 Pen World Voices Festival at The 92nd Street Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center. The festival showcased writers from around the globe, including those whose voices are often silenced by censorship in their own countries. On opening night, writers from China, Afghanistan and Estonia read their own works — in their native language and in translation. Bernard Schwartz, Director of the Unterberg Poetry Center and Steven L. Isenberg, the Executive Director of PEN America introduced the festival and the evening’s program.

Bon Mots
Highlights from the event. Listen to the full audio above.

On the Origin of the Festival: “When Salman [Rushdie] began the festival, after September 11th, he wanted to keep America and the world in touch through literature.” –Steven L. Isenberg, Executive Director of Pen America

On the Seven Deadly Sins: “There are worse sins than deadly ones; bigotry is high on that list.” –Salman Rushdie

On Language and Exile: “I am from Afghanistan but I’ll read in French, because I am in exile. In exile: not only in another country, but also another language. Why? When I read, you will understand.” –Atiq Rahimi, author of The Patience Stone