The World Voices Festival, founded in 2004 by Salman Rushdie, Michael Roberts, and Esther Allen, is PEN America’s celebration of international literature and writers. Honoring our organization’s hundred-year history of uniting writers and readers to celebrate creative expression and the freedom to write for all, the Festival was founded in the wake of 9/11 to counter U.S. isolationism and broaden the channels of dialogue between the United States and the world.
Featuring more than 100 writers from 27 countries, the 2023 festival will celebrate great writing and the power of storytelling against the current headwinds of attacks by those who seek to censor and silence. This gathering of writers from every part of the globe is a potent reminder—in fact, an antidote in an era of censorship—that books drive culture and identity, while empowering and transforming our lives.
Ayad Akhtar, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and PEN America president, is this year’s festival chair, with Marlon James and Ottessa Moshfegh as guest chairs. Each will curate a signature event: Moshfegh will explore what, if anything, writers owe to their audience, and James will discuss a novelist’s journey to and from their second novel. Akhtar will speak with Eboo Patel about sustaining creative expression in an environment of contentious debates. The festival’s keynote, the annual Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture, will be delivered by Ta-Nehisi Coates, who will address the current climate of book bans and censorship.
Join PEN America and Lush Cosmetics in Union Square (Thursday, May 11th) and Astor Place Plaza (Saturday, May 13th) for the Banned Book Library, an interactive free public art installation detailing the rise in book bans across the United States. PEN America and Lush Cosmetics staff will be onsite to share information on the recent... Read More
Vital Voices from Indie Lit Publishers, hosted by The Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP), presents readings from a diverse array of independently published authors. This event will feature fiction writers Kevin Chen (Ghost Town, a novel published by Europa Editions) and Ada Zhang (The Sorrows of Others, a short story collection published by... Read More
Join us for the eighth annual Indie Lit Fair, co-presented by the PEN World Voices Festival and the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP).This year, the Indie Lit Fair will take place south of Washington Square Park, on the sidewalk outside AIA New York at 536 LaGuardia Place. Free and open to the public,... Read More
“Essential Workers” or “Frontline Workers” are terms that became part of our common language during the COVID-19 pandemic. Join members of New York City’s frontline worker centers—Domestic Workers United, New York Taxi Workers Alliance, Street Vendor Project, and other organizations—as they read from their new anthology, Coronavirus Haiku (Kenning Editions, 2021). Written during Zoom workshops... Read More
The war in Ukraine has brought forth a remarkable resistance and solidarity among its citizens, as well as unimaginable personal and professional transformations. Artem Chapeye, fiction writer, is now a private in the Defense Forces; Artem Chekh, whose 2022 New York Times Op-Ed was titled “I’m a Ukrainian Soldier and I’ve Accepted My Death,” now... Read More
The standards of journalistic objectivity remain hotly contested by readers, prominent media figures, and writers attached to newspapers of record. As we near another election cycle, questions about normalizing “extremist” views and accusations of journalists engaging in “both-siderism” will once again dominate public discourse. Meanwhile, debates continue to unfold around which journalists can cover sexual... Read More
What are the burning issues and obsessions that inflame writers today—or at least the minds of Booker Prize-winning authors Marlon James and Ben Okri? James (Moon Witch, Spider King) sits down with poet and novelist Okri (The Last Gift of the Master Artists, A Fire In My Head: Poems for the Dawn, The Freedom Artist)... Read More
Trans stories today are working against a daunting history of suppression, erasure, and violence. This event convenes transgender and cis writers to explore how they approach writing transgender stories in light of an alarming rise in hate speech and anti-trans legislation, and the concurrently increasing removal of LGBTQIA+ stories from schools and libraries. How does... Read More
Mahogany L. Browne, Kiese Laymon, Imani Perry, Patricia Smith and Tyriek White come together for a series of discussions, readings, and musical performances that explore the intersection of art, history, and family in the Black literary tradition.