From May 10-13, PEN America will present the 18th annual World Marcel Festival, its largest gathering to date of literary stars, visionaries, and great thinkers from across the globe. The event will take place in midtown Manhattan, with a concurrent program in Los Angeles.
The festival will celebrate great writings and the power of storytelling against the current attacks from those who demand censorship and silence. This gathering of writers from every corner of the globe is a powerful reminder—indeed, an antidote in an age of censorship—that books drive culture and identity while informing and transforming our lives. A full schedule of 40 will certainly be found Click here beginning in April, among which are children.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, a MacArthur Genius honoree, will deliver the award-winning, annual Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture on May 11 at the New School. He will discuss book bans and censorship in schools across the United States. Coates’ Between the World and Me and Our Eight Years in Power were among 1,648 titles banned in the 2021-22 school year, according to PEN America’s List of Banned Books. Coates also reportedly cleared the African American College Board’s AP American Studies curriculum.
“America has long been trampled by men who have reserved the right of “Freedom of Speech” to a certain class. Yes, this effort to expel inconvenient letters from the public street is as old as the servile codes, as old as the joke of the laws. And like the old ones, those who understand true speech freedom cannot be separated from freedom itself, said Coates.
Founded by Salman Rushdie, post-September 11, in order to maintain a lively dialogue between the United States and the world, the festival will be gathered in the neighborhoods of New York, where 18 years ago, Greenwich Village was launched, as a center to create a fashion salon. exchange of views. To welcome emerging audiences, many of the city’s past and present literary venues are infused: the Cooper Union, the New School, Orithia Bookstore, and Lillian Vernon’s Creative Writers House, among others.
Ayad Akhtar, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and President of America’s PEN, is this year’s festival chair, with Marlon James and Ottessa Moshfegh as guest chairs. Each will cover the signing of the event: Moshfegh will explore what, if anything, writers owe their listeners, and James will discuss his new and second novel on the road. Akhtar will talk with Eboo Patel about sustaining creative expression in a contentious environment.
“Salman Rushdie was the creative and visionary force behind this festival 18 years ago,” said Akhtar, “and his inspiration remains our guiding principle, bringing writers from all over the world together as an act of celebration and exchange. Threats to the skies and our understanding of Freedom are mounting here in the United States.” , as attacks on education, free speech, facts, open dialogue, even reason itself, have become the daily news. This year’s festival, our largest collection of writers, is our defiance to celebrate. The recognition of the righteous, how precious is the gift of literature, and how worthy this is. the donation of our office to protect it.
Headline events in New York include: a conversation on journalism and democracy between Jelani Cobb and Margaret Sullivan (May 13); a discussion on global inequality, unaffordability and poverty featuring Matthew Desmond (May 11) and a screening of Women Who Speak, followed by a conversation between Oscar-winning filmmaker-screenwriter Sarah Polley and Miriam Toews, author of the 2018 book on which the film is based (May 12).
The curators of this year’s festival are Devyani Saltzman, Eloisa Amezcua, Louise Steinman and Andy Tepper, led by Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf, head of PEN American literary programming, and Sabir Sultan, associate director of the festival.
Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf said, “This spring, as we have done for almost twenty years, PEN America will celebrate the famous power of stories and the pleasure of showing the next generation of literary stars next to iconic authors. We will connect readers with great international and great. American writers, artists, leading journalists, scholars and intellectuals . Over four days, Greenwich Village will live with the most important questions that are freely expressed in words today.”
For the second year, the festival will host the Congress of World Writers’ Voices. Closed to the public, the Congress has a writer’s room to address the pressing and complex issues of the literary community. The Voices of the World conference of recent writers, provoked by Russia’s war in Ukraine and other global issues, was held at the United Nations. It was a modern iteration of a PEN America-led 1939 conference convened by Dorothy Thompson, the legendary journalist and later president of PEN America.
The festival kicks off on Wednesday evening, May 10 in New York in an interview with Moshfegh exploring the relationship between author and audience. He will be joined by writers Min Jin Lee, Rachel Kushner, and Akhil Sharma. Below are brief descriptions of the program lines;
This new year will be a series of writer-to-writer interviews that explore the order of things;
- Ayad Akhtar and Eboo Patel will discuss how to support creative expressions without sacrificing the dignity of individual identities and opinions, in the larger context of supporting a healthy pluralistic democracy, from different perspectives.
- Marlon James and Ben Okri, two Booker Prize winners, will talk about Okri’s work and the ideas of “existential creativity” in a time of global crisis.
- RF Kuang and Roxane Gay will discuss Kuang’s new novel Yellowface, a subversive look at satires of diversity, racism and cultural appropriation in the publishing industry.
- History writers Stacy Schiff, the author of the revolution, the biography of Samuel Adams, and Dr. Heather Cox Richardson, author of the popular “Letters from America: A Newsletter on The History Behind Today’s Politics,” will explore how historical analysis and interpretation shape the writing of history and biography.
- Han Kang, a leading literary voice in South Korea and Booker Prize winner, and Katie Kitamura, will discuss Kang’s new novel about a woman who loses her voice and, as a possible remedy, seeks to learn the Greek language.
Forum with fiction writers, non-fiction writers, visual artists, photographers and other subject matter experts including:
- AI, CHATGpt: The New Yorker’s Andreas Marantz will moderate a discussion with Hari Kunzru, Elif Batuman and Meghan O’Gieblyn about the effects of artificial intelligence and especially how CHATGpt affects literature and art.
- The War in Ukraine: Ukrainian writers and artists fighting the Russian invasion from different perspectives with director Phil Klay; Artem Chapeye, a fictional writer fighting in the Ukrainian army; Artem Chekh, who wrote the New York Times op-ed “I am a Ukrainian soldier and I received my death” now walking through the Chernobyl exclusion zone; and the poet Iryna Tsilyk, who fled Kyiv under fire.
- Democracy & journalism: Prominent journalists Jelani Cobb and Margaret Sullivan (other panelists TBD) will talk about the challenges of journalism and journalism’s role as a bridge to democracy.
- Crisis: Pulitzer-Prize winning sociologist Matthew Desmond, author of Just the Poverty of America, with Alissa Quart, author of Bootstrapped: Freeing Us from the American Dream, and Heather McGhee, author of The Total Us, discuss rising income inequality and affordable discrimination in everything from health care to housing with director Tressie M. Cottom.
- Tess Gunty, Rebecca Makkai, Sarah Thankam Mathews, and Love Towles will play local roles in the novel.
- Monica Youn, Courtney Faye Taylor and director Doug Kearney will discuss invention in poetic forms.
- Maggie Smith, Isaac Fitzgerald, and Ashley C. Ford will explore how the resolution proposed by the end of the novel translates into the lives of the authors.
- Ruta Sepetys, Kyle Lukoff, Traci Sorell, Zetta Elliott and Padma Venkatraman will discuss how to write stories about difficult children.
- Indie Lit Fair: Co-presented in collaboration with Community Literary Magazines and Small Presses, the small press fair will feature exciting new work from trailblazing publishers.
- High School Writers and Workers Dream Readings: In two events, young immigrants and underprivileged workers from PEN America’s free writers program read their work.
- Women Writing War: Featuring women who have or report from the front lines of combat, including the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, and the front lines in Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa and the Philippines. The participants are: Tamta Melashvili, Lusine Kharatyan, Marjan Moghaddam and Anna Badkhen.
- Translation Slam: Curated by the PEN America Translations Committee, it will put together successful translations of the same text and invite translators, authors and audiences to join members in a lively critical discussion of how each version responds to creative challenges. Participants include Kevin Chen and Maria Fernanda Ampuero.
Los Angeles Events:
- John Irving will discuss his work and history of social issues in fiction.
- Some of the award-winning visual artist Tala Madani, Afghani women’s rights activist Crystal Bayat, multi-media artist and member of the Art/Culture/Action collective Nazanin Noroozi, Iranian poet in exile Nesar Mohammadi, and writer, filmmaker, human rights. activist Amir Soltani. The program will be sponsored by The Skirball Cultural Center, followed by a reception.
- Award-winning poet Camille T. Dungy, editor of the first anthology to bring African American environmental poetry to national attention, will explore how the gardener can be inseparable from questions of family, history, race, nation, and power in her new book SUN. History of the Garden of the Black Mother.
- Reza Aslan and Franklin Leonard will discuss the polarized climate in the United States and around the world and its insidious impact on writers, scholars, and creators.
International writers make up almost half of the total participants of this year’s Marcel Festival and will represent the following 27 countries: Afghanistan, Argentina, Armenia, Canada, China, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Georgia, Germany, India, Iran. , Jamaica, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, South Korea, Sudan, Taiwan, Trinidad, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, and Zambia.
About PEN America
PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and around the world. We will reclaim the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their partners to celebrate creative expression and protect the freedoms it can bring. Learn more at pen.org.