New York City, September 21, 2010—PEN American Center, the largest branch of the world’s oldest literary and human rights organization, named László Jakab Orsós Director of the World Voices Festival and Public Programs. Orsós comes to PEN from the Hungarian Cultural Center, where, as its Director, he launched Extremely Hungary, a series of public events celebrating Hungarian culture. Orsós is also an accomplished journalist and screenwriter. He will replace Caro Llewellyn, who in June was named the Producer of the New York Public Library’s Centennial celebrations to be held next year. The next PEN World Voices Festival will take place from April 25 to May 1, 2011, with support from Hachette Livre, its premier sponsor.

“The World Voices Festival, now in its seventh year, has become a signature part of our identity and is an embodiment of our purposes,” said Steven Isenberg, PEN’s Executive Director. “The Festival has become the premier festival of international literature in the United States and one of the major literary festivals in the world. Jakab’s curatorial imagination and experience, together with his international outlook and proven abilities, will bring dynamic leadership to the job. He and Elizabeth Weinstein, who will continue her fine work as our Manager of the Festival and Public Programs, will build on the accomplishments of both our festival and our year-round public programming.”

“Working for PEN will be so fulfilling for me,” Orsós said. “PEN fights for the freedom of intellectuals and for creative independence, which are the foundations of my personal philosophy, too.” Prior to becoming Director of the Hungarian Cultural Center in 2005, Orsós wrote a column for Hungary’s largest daily newspaper, hosted cultural programs on Hungarian television, and lectured at the Budapest Academy of Film. He co-wrote the award-winning animated feature film The District, served on the selection jury of the Sundance Institute’s European Screenwriting Lab,and was a Visiting Scholar in Film at New York University. “I hope that with dedication and energy, I will be able to build on the legacy of my predecessor and explore new ways to present literature and communicate the power of intellectual courage.”

“I’m delighted that Jakab Orsós has agreed to take over as Director of the PEN World Voices Festival,” said Salman Rushdie, Chair of the Festival. “Jakab’s experience, originality, creativity, and drive make him the ideal successor to Caro Llewellyn. I very much look forward to working with him and Elizabeth Weinstein. They will make a formidable team.”

The World Voices Festival was launched in 2005, when Rushdie was the President of PEN American Center. Each spring since then over 100 writers from more than 40 countries have come to New York City for a weeklong celebration of international literature and free expression. Past participants include Nobel laureates Toni Morrison, Orhan Pamuk, and Nadine Gordimer, along with hundreds of other writers from around the globe. In recent years, PEN has expanded the Festival beyond New York, holding events in more than a dozen cities across the U.S.

Orsós will assume his new position immediately.

PEN American Center is the largest of the 145 PEN centers in 102 countries that constitute International PEN, the world’s oldest international literary and human rights organization. PEN centers around the world work to defend free expression and promote international literary fellowship. Its distinguished members carry on the achievements of past luminaries including W.H. Auden, James Baldwin, Willa Cather, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, Thomas Mann, Arthur Miller, Marianne Moore, Eugene O’Neill, Susan Sontag, and John Steinbeck. For more information on PEN’s work, please visit www.pen.org.

David Haglund, (212) 334-1660 ext. 115, david@pen.org
Jessica Rotondi, (212) 334-1660 ext. 103, jessica@pen.org