PEN America will convene an array of vital voices in literature from around the globe in the 20th anniversary PEN World Voices Festival, held May 8-11 in New York City—concentrated in Greenwich Village—and May 8-18 in Los Angeles.  

With 100 writers in more than 35 events, the festival celebrates the power of literature both to transport and galvanize, initiating conversation between writers from more than 25 countries to expand our understanding of our world.

This year’s festival is curated by Sabir Sultan, Director of the World Voices Festival and Literary Programs, and Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf, PEN America’s Chief of Literary Programs; in collaboration with the 2024 festival curation committee. 

Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf said, “We are looking forward to bringing readers and writers together—fostering a global community around our common love of books and literature. Once again, this festival is an open invitation to gather as a community and sit in the same room with some of our favorite novelists, memoirists, translators, journalists, and poets—to breathe in their brilliance and transcend international borders, for a love of words and ideas.” 

The PEN World Voices Festival was founded by former PEN America president Salman Rushdie, Michael Roberts and Esther Allen, post-September 11, to keep dialogue alive between the United States and the world. Rushdie, along with eight other former presidents of the organization, in a joint letter, noted, “The PEN World Voices has been a place for writers to debate and disagree—and for all of us to benefit from the rich exchanges. Never has participation implied acquiescence with PEN America’s policies or stances – nor anything else, for that matter. PEN America is singular in its commitment to presenting varied voices and its willingness to engage challenging topics.” (See their full letter here). 

PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel remarked, “Every springtime the World Voices Festival helps literature jump from the page into the streets and halls, sparking epiphanies, chance encounters, and a dose of inspiration. From its inception 20 years ago, the festival has been about both celebrating books and authors and also convening the probing conversations that unlock the power of great writing to help us bridge divisions and make sense of our world. In a time of shrinking attention spans and online cacophonies, the festival is a chance to sit riveted by a conversation about books, ideas, and stories that may be powerful enough to pry open our minds and hearts.”

The current schedule of events—with more, including the festival’s to-be-announced keynote annual Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture, continuing to be added—can be found here. They range from intimate talks between two authors on acclaimed recent releases to larger gatherings of writers around the cultural, political, stylistic, and genre-oriented resonances between their works.

Select highlights include:

  • A panel of journalists—Patricia Evangelista, Jonathan Blitzer, and Patrick Radden Keefe with moderator George Packer—recalling their risky confrontations with power (May 8)
  • A talk with Kelly Link and Marlon James about collapsing the boundary between genre and literary fiction (May 8)
  • Jennifer Egan, Geetanjali Shree, and Maurice Carlos Ruffin with moderator Marie Myung-Ok Lee on novelistic style and form breaking open our reality (May 8)
  • Jodi Picoult and PEN America President Jennifer Finney Boylan on biases against and perceptions of fiction with predominantly women readerships (May 9)
  • Mona Awad, Victor LaValle, and Stephen Graham Jones with moderator Erin E. Adams on horror’s exorcism of societal demons (May 9)
  • Roxane Gay, Leigh Newman, and Min Jin Lee with Matthew Ortile on the importance of mentorship and community in a solitary profession (May 10)
  • A discussion on the censorship of American theater led by Lynn Nottage with Jeanine Tesori, Moisés Kaufman, Carlyle Brown, and John Weidman (May 10)
  • Jessica Knoll, Kyle Dillon Hertz, and Vinson Cunningham with moderator Alexandra Schwartz on our era’s shifting notions of coming-of-age (May 10)
  • Marlon James, Safiya Sinclair, Astrid Roemer, and Naomi Jackson on the connections and distinctions between realities represented in the vastness and diversity of Caribbean literature (May 10)
  • Tara Westover, Margo Jefferson, and Joyce Carol Oates on writing others to approach the subject of the self (May 11)
  • Vigdis Hjorth, Jakuta Alikavazovic, and Amitava Kumar on literature that grapples with parents’ complex legacies in our lives (May 11)
  • Rebecca Kuang, Leigh Bardugo, and Nnedi Okorafor with moderator Ruoxi Chen on science fiction and fantasy’s delicate balance of the familiar and the fantastical (May 11)
  • An exploration of the past, present, and future of Latinidad in Los Angeles with Héctor Tobar, George Sanchez, and Kelly Lytle Hernández (May 15)

Festival Passes, offering access to all NYC events, are available for just $75 at 

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at

Press Contacts

Blake Zidell at Blake Zidell & Associates: [email protected] or 917-572-2493. 
Suzanne Trimel at PEN America: [email protected] or 201-247-5057