The PEN World Voices Festival returns this April 16th-22nd! Join PEN America for this year’s festival, themed “Resist and Reimagine”, featuring over 165 writers and artists representing over 50 nationalities. At this moment of great division, come together to celebrate the power of creative work through conversations, debates, readings and workshops as we take a collective step toward a more just world. This year’s panelists include Roxane Gay, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Hillary Clinton, Akwaeke Emezi, Jhumpa Lahiri and more!
PEN World Voices is America’s premier international literary festival, attracting the best known writers from across the globe. Since its founding, the festival has presented more than 1,800 writers and artists from 118 countries speaking 56 languages in venues across New York City in a weeklong series of literary events with a human rights focus. The festival was founded by Salman Rushdie, Esther Allen and Michael Roberts in the aftermath of September 11th, 2001, with the aim of broadening channels of dialogue between the United States and the world— a mission that, today, has never been more relevant.
Use our promo code “GWN2018” for a discount on tickets for the following events which align with Girls Write Now’s mission to empower women writers. Tickets can be purchased on the PEN World Voices website.
April 20th, 7:00-8:30pm
One of today’s most influential contemporary voices writing about gender, sexuality, race, and the issues confronting women as they navigate a difficult and often hostile world, Roxane Gay is that rare writer of fiction, essays, and journalism (and some of the sharpest and most insightful tweets around) who has become a cultural icon. In this keynote event of the Festival, Gay engages with today’s big subjects, including #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, body size, and feminism – topics that in her writing are marked by a piercing intellect and engaging empathy, as well as often heartbreaking personal disclosures, earning her the devoted following of women and men across generations. Roxane Gay talks to the co-host of BuzzFeed News’ Twitter morning show, #AMtoDM Isaac Fitzgerald.
April 21st, 2:30-4:00pm
Forty-five years after the constitutional right to abortion was won in the U.S., attempts to subvert women’s reproductive rights have never been been more zealous or determined. How should we respond to the efforts by state and federal legislators to bring in laws and regulations that envision women as mere breeders? The panel considers what roles literature, including fiction and poetry, philosophy and science, might have in helping us understand, and resist, such enduring misogyny. With Siri Hustvedt and Leni Zumas.
April 21st, 12:00-1:30pm
Today, the internet and social media are part of a career in journalism and the arts, helping writers and creators to forge important connections, promote their work, and cultivate audiences. So what’s a person to do when besieged by online hate and harassment that can compromise their reputation, their work, and even their sense of personal safety? Hear from the heroes who refuse to be silenced online as they discuss the best tools for countering hate and making the internet a more inclusive place for all. Anita Sarkeesian, Yassmin Abdel-Magied and Porochista Khakpou talk to Katy Glenn Bass.
This program also marks the launch of PEN America’s Online Harassment Field Manual for writers and journalists, a resource that will go live on 4/21.
April 16th, 7:00-8:45pm
ACT I: A Global Refugee Crisis
An unprecedented 65.5 million people are currently displaced around the globe, fleeing war, persecution, climate change, and famine. One of them is Behrouz Boochani, a poet and journalist from Iran, who has been detained by the Australian government for more than four years on the remote Manus Island. Australian performance poet and author Maxine Beneba Clarke reads from “A Letter from Manus Island: A Refugee Resistance Manifesto” by Behrouz Boochani.
Act II: The Underground Railroad: Yesterday and Today
In one of the most celebrated and powerful books of the past year, Colson Whitehead reimagined the metaphorical Underground Railroad – one of America’s most potent and enduring examples of resistance. He talks to Annette Gordon-Reed, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, about the creative imagination required to find the historical truth, and how the legacy of slavery reverberates throughout our history — from Jim Crow laws to the resurgence of white supremacy.
ACT III: Reimagining Our Worlds Through Immigration and Literature
The Perfect Nanny, Leila Slimani’s brilliantly unsettling novel about a nanny who murdered the two young children in her charge, ignited passionate debate in France for its subversive examination of motherhood, race, and social inequality. The first Moroccan-born woman to win the Prix Goncourt and now President Emmanuel Macron’s ambassador for Francophone affairs talks to The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik about her work and a life remade through immigration and literature.
April 21st, 2:30-4:00pm
Transitions can be powerful or they can be disconcerting, delirious or even dangerous. Whether they are across national borders, across cultures, or across sexual identities, reconciling the old and the new can be accompanied by pain or by joy, or lead to a new awareness and identity. In her debut novel Freshwater Akwaeke Emezi explores how the West and traditional Igbo culture can inform identity. Kanchana Ugbabe, an Indian author who has found refuge from the violence in her hometown in Nigeria, writes of the dual vision of the insider and outsider. And in Disoriental, filmmaker and author Negar Djavadi, who fled from Iran to France with her family at age 11, writes of the need to “disintegrate” before you can integrate into a new culture. Powerful fiction and memoir give us insights into the threshold spaces of culture and identity these women occupy.
April 18th, 7:00-8:15pm
In many western countries, being Muslim, young, and female brings with it a particularly heavy burden. Amani Al-Khatahtbeh was forced to leave America in the wake of relentless vilification and harassment post-9/11, and just last year Yassmin Abdel-Magied was hounded out of Australia by ferocious media and online attacks. They talk about how to survive and thrive in cultures that hate them.