The Sixth Annual 
PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature
April 26 to May 2, 2010

New York City, March 18, 2010—Salman Rushdie and The PEN American Center today announce the program for the Sixth Annual World PEN Voices Festival of International Literature taking place this year Monday, April 26 through Sunday, May 2.

Salman Rushdie says, “Here we are in year six of the PEN World Voices Festival and it’s a matter of great personal pride to be able to say, we did it! The Festival has gone from strength to strength, and is plainly offering New Yorkers something they want. In the immortal words of Kevin Costner, ‘if you build it, they will come.’ We built it, and they are coming in ever increasing numbers. We are delighted to welcome the world’s writers and the audiences who want to hear them.”

Festival director Caro Llewellyn says, “We’re the only international literary festival in the United States, and the 2010 edition of World Voices will bring a stellar line-up of some 150 emerging and established authors to venues across New York City for an exciting week of conversations, panels, readings, and performance. And this year, for the first time, we’re very proud to announce a bold new initiative—to take the Festival on the road—we’ll be hosting a series of events with some of our international guests appearing at 10 other cities including Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, and Pittsburgh. The PEN World Voices Festival is a truly global literary cultural exchange, now with national outreach!”

2010 Festival Highlights include:

  • Readings from Around the Globe, Festival Opening Night at the 92Y, with internationally acclaimed writers reading in their original languages as their words are projected on screens behind them in English with Mohsin Hamid (Pakistan), László Krasznahorkai (Hungary), Yiyun Li (China/US), Daniele Mastrogiacomo (Pakistan/Italy), Sofi Oksanen (Finland), Atiq Rahimi (Afghanistan/France), Salman Rushdie (India/US), Patti Smith (US), and others!

  • Adaptation: From Page to Screen. A look at what is lost, or gained, in the translation of fiction to film with Philippe Djian, on whose book Betty Blue was based, Jean-Philippe Toussaint, whose work has been compared to the films of Jim Jarmusch, Barry Gifford, whose Wild at Heart was directed by David Lynch, and Richard Price, whose book Clockers was directed by Spike Lee.

  • Weather Report—What Can We Do? – An epic transatlantic conversation with today’s leading voices and minds on global warming, the Copenhagen talks, and policy options—with Jostein Gardner (Sophie’s World), James Hansen (Storms of My Grandchildren), Frederic Hauge (The Bellona Foundation), Bjørn Lomborg (The Skeptical Environmentalist), Bill McKibben (The End of Nature), Andrew Revkin (The Burning Season), and Cynthia Rosenzweig (NYC Panel on Climate Change). Moderated by Robert Silvers of the NY Review of Books at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Absolutely not to be missed!

  • Nobel Prize–winning author Toni Morrison has said of South African Marlene van Niekerk’s latest novel, “Its beauty matches its depth and her achievement is as brilliant as it is haunting.” This special event will feature both writers in conversation with PEN President K. Anthony Appiah.

  • Extraordinary conversations with writers:

  • Australian novelist Shirley Hazzard interviewed by one of her greatest admirers, Pulitzer Prize winner, Richard Ford.

  • Ireland’s Roddy Doyle (The Commitments), making his first visit to the PEN World Voices Festival, and Colum McCann (National Book Award winner for Let the Great World Spin)

  • A once-in-a-lifetime conversation between two New York City icons: Patti Smith and Jonathan Lethem.

  • Pakistan’s Mohsin Hamid (The Reluctant Fundamentalist) and Indian author Akhil Sharma (An Obedient Father) introduced by Philip Gourevitch.

  • The Translation Slam. The third ever, mind blowing, word bending, smile inducing Translation Slam, which puts translators front and center in a battle over one work, two languages. Come prepared to cheer your favorite wordsmith!

  • The Fourth Annual Cabaret. Our enormously popular and annual fastest Festival event to sell-out, PEN Cabaret, this year at Le Poisson Rouge, with Booker Prize winner Ben Okri, Chilean story master Ariel Dorfman, Georgian writer and performance artist Irakli Kakabadze, and special guest Natalie Merchant who will bring the work of poets long forgotten back to life through music.

  • War: Join these extraordinary journalists who have put themselves on the front lines: Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo who was kidnapped and held hostage by the Taliban, Deborah Amos, the award-winning NPR correspondent who’s covered the Iraq and Gulf wars, Philip Gourevitch who reported on the genocide in Rwanda, Arnon Grunberg who’s reported from Iraq, and Sebastian Junger, whose Humvee was hit by a land mine when he was reporting from Afghanistan. Introduced by PEN Executive Director Steve Isenberg.

  • Iran: A Conversation with Maziar Bahari and The Daily Show’s Jason Jones. Canadian-Iranian journalist Bahari was arrested following the disputed Iranian presidential elections last year and held for 118 days in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. Before he was arrested, he’d filmed an interview with Jones, who had traveled to Iran for a series of satirical, yet poignant, pre-election reports. While in prison Bahari was questioned over and over about his interviews with Jones, the “spy” from The Daily Show. PEN is thrilled to present this reunion between Maziar Bahari and Jason Jones.

  • The Fifth Annual Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture by Sherman Alexie. National Book Award–winning author Sherman Alexie will explore the roles and responsibilities of writers in the digital age. Previous lectures have been delivered by Orhan Pamuk, David Grossman, Umberto Eco and Nawal El Saadawi.

Steven L. Isenberg, Executive Director of the PEN American Center says, “This year’s program exemplifies the vibrancy and power of literature, and the convictions, imagination, and skill that capture attention and keep us reading. Each and every day’s lineup of conversations and readings fosters and celebrates the international literary fellowship that remains the heart of PEN. The World Voices Festival has unquestionably become an international literary celebration of the front rank.”

This year PEN celebrates the 50th anniversary of its campaigns on behalf of persecuted writers. For five decades PEN has been instrumental in freeing hundreds of writers imprisoned for their words, and today PEN continues to fight for writers around the globe. To highlight this ongoing work—and as a reminder that the silencing of writers in one country robs the entire world of their voices—there will be an empty chair onstage at each of this year’s Festival programs, dedicated to one of our colleagues currently in prison somewhere in the world.

PEN American Center is the largest of the 141 centers of International PEN, the world’s oldest human rights organization and the oldest international literary organization. International PEN was founded in 1921 to dispel national, ethnic, and racial hatreds and to promote understanding among all countries. PEN American Center, founded a year later, works to advance literature, to defend free expression, and to foster international literary fellowship. The sixth annual World Voices Festival for International Literature is chaired by Salman Rushdie and directed by Caro Llewellyn.

For a full schedule of Festival events and a complete list of participating authors, please go to www.pen.org/festival.

Follow the Festival on Twitter: #PENWVF

Many events are free but some events require paid tickets and/or reservations and are likely to sell out.

To order tickets: www.smarttix.com or (212) 868-4444

Events held at FIAF are sold through Ticketmaster: www.ticketmaster.com

Events held at Joe’s Pub are sold at: www.joespub.com

Events held at WNYC Jerome L Greene Performance Space are sold at www.ovationtix.com or (212) 352-0255

Events at (Le) Poisson Rouge are sold at lepoissonrouge.com or (212) 505-3474

Events at Skirball are sold at www.skirballcenter.nyu.edu or (212) 3523101

Free events are seated on a first-come, first-served basis.

The PEN World Voices Festival is made possible by the generous support of many co-sponsors, partner organizations, cultural agencies, and individual donors. The Sponsors for this year’s Festival are Bloomberg, The Kaplen Foundation, LJK Literary Management, Stephen & Ann Pleshette Murphy, Random House, Arthur Ross Foundation, Annette Tapert & Joseph Allen and The Roger Smith Hotel.

Kimberly Burns, kb@kimberlyburnspr.com, (212) 226-0981