The PEN American Center is trying to get Sebastian Horsley allowed on U.S. soil. The British artist, who wrote the memoir Dandy in the Underworld, was barred from entering the country on the grounds of “moral turpitude” after landing in Newark on March 18. According to PEN, U.S. Customs officials at Newark Liberty made the call after running “a Google search” on the writer and questioning him “for several hours about his statements and writings.” The decision to turn Horsley away was based on the author’s “admissions of past involvement with drugs and prostitution, as well as his participation in a self-crucifixion in the Philippines in 2000,” according to PEN.
Horsley returned to the U.K., but has been invited back to the States by PEN for the upcoming World Voices Festival at the end of April. The organization has drafted a letter asking the Department of Homeland Security to review its past decision and allow the author back into the country. The case, as PEN states, could serve as a dangerous precedent that could interfere with other literary figures’ trips to America. You can read PEN’s letter here.