Printable Schedule

Day 1
10 May 2023

How We Became/Become: Latinidad, Identity, & Love

How are we shaped by the histories, cultures, and landscapes that surround us—and how does this inform the ways we engage, love, and hurt others? In the New York Times...
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Javier Zamora
José Olivarez
Eloisa Amezcua
María Fernanda Ampuero

Novel & Place

When we talk about reading, we almost always talk about being transported. But where are we going? How does the place we are transported to become a character in itself?...
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Omari Weekes
Rebecca Makkai
Sarah Thankam Mathews
Tess Gunty
Amor Towles

Woman, Life, Freedom: The Role of Art in the Struggle for Human Rights

How are artists, writers, and activists mobilizing and participating in the struggle for human rights and gender justice around the world?
Amir Soltani
Nazanin Noroozi
Tala Madani
​​Nesar Mohammadi
Crystal Bayat

Ottessa Moshfegh Presents: Why Write?

Beyond the publishing industry’s tireless work catering toward a market in flux, the landscape of culture, social politics, and online discourse shifts faster than novelists can write. How do writers...
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Rachel Kushner
Ottessa Moshfegh
Min Jin Lee
Akhil Sharma
Day 2
11 May 2023

PEN America and Lush Cosmetics present The Banned Book Library (Day 1)

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...
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Translation Slam

The Translation Slam puts different translations of the same text side by side and invites the translators, authors, and audience members to join in a lively critical debate of how...
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Stacy Mosher
Lin King
Annelise Finegan
Samantha Schnee
D.P. Snyder
Kevin Chen
María Fernanda Ampuero

The Affordability Crisis and Future Hope

The current global cost of living crisis is fueling a staggering rise in inequality as it catapults health care, housing, food, and education to unaffordable extremes. Outside of the Global...
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Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom
Matthew Desmond
Heather McGhee
Alissa Quart

The Past’s Presence

Historians’ work unearthing the past offers invaluable revelations about the landscape of modern American politics. With the freedom to tell authentic histories under attack in schools across America, thoughtful, informed...
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Stacy Schiff
Heather Cox Richardson

Off-Kilter: Fairy-Horror-Tales in the 21st Century

As global crises abruptly manifest from invisible viruses, the swelling miasma of greenhouse gasses, world-threatening geopolitical tensions, it’s no surprise that in the past few years, we’ve seen a proliferation...
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Maria Tatar
Kelly Link
Sabrina Orah Mark
Monica Brashears

Matters of Offense: Ayad Akhtar & Eboo Patel

From the literary world to college campuses the relationships between art, identity, appropriation, and free speech are hotly contested. Increasingly the value of freedom of expression is ranked in opposition...
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Eboo Patel
Ayad Akhtar

Earthly Delights: History, Race and Environmental Consciousness

Camille Dungy will read from SOIL and discuss the interconnections between literature, environmental action, history, and culture with Leah Thomas
Leah Thomas
Camille T. Dungy

Arthur Miller Lecture: Ta-Nehisi Coates

In the Festival's keynote lecture, Ta-Nehisi Coates will discuss this moment of attempts to erase African American history and black intellectual thought in the context of the broader attacks on free speech and free expression.
David Blight
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Day 3
12 May 2023

DREAMing Out Loud: A Public Reading

From Mexico to Nigeria, Kazakhstan to Honduras, Brazil to Jamaica, South Africa to Bangladesh, and beyond, our DREAMers will share stories of journeys toward hope, healing, and joy from around...
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India at 75: Writing from the Subcontinent and the Future of Free expression

In light of India’s 75th anniversary of independence, join esteemed writers Suketu Mehta, Zia Jaffrey, Amitava Kumar Kumar, Kiran Desai, Geetanjali Shree, and Raghu Karnad to discuss the current state of free expression in India. May 12 @ 6.
Yashica Dutt
Suketu Mehta
Kiran Desai
Zia Jaffrey
Raghu Karnad
Amitava Kumar

Holocaust Legacies

Eight decades on, the Holocaust continues to cast a dark shadow over the lives of survivors and their descendents. It is both a destructor of history, having erased the personal...
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Nina Siegal
Marianne Hirsch
Anne Berest

Women Writing War

War writing has long been a category dominated by male journalists and authors. Increasingly, women are reporting from the front lines, and writing short stories, diaries, poetry collections, and dramatic...
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Carolyn Forché
Tamta Melashvili
Marjan Moghaddam
Lusine Kharatyan
Anna Badkhen

A Seat at The Table: Culinary & Cultural Delights

Cesar Chavez said, “the people who give you their food give you their heart.” In this intimate conversation about all things food, Rabia Chaudry (Fatty Fatty Boom Boom), Padma Lakshmi...
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Padma Lakshmi
Rabia Chaudry
Mayukh Sen
Dawn Davis

Women Talking: Sarah Polley and Miriam Toews

In the film adaptation of Miriam Toews’ novel Women Talking, director Sarah Polley paints an intimate and powerful portrait of a group of women at a crisis point: after discovering...
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Miriam Toews
Sarah Polley
Devyani Saltzman headshot
Devyani Saltzman

Stories that Stay: Grief, Legacy, and Sexual Politics in Fiction

Charmaine Craig speaks with John Irving about his interest in gendered power structures, and how his understanding of a writer’s artistic freedom has changed over the course of his decades-long career.
Charmaine Craig
Charmaine Craig
John Irving


From different corners of the earth, a group of writers have gathered to write epic plays about everything they know and everything they believe in. They have queered your sacred...
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Insurrection: The Story of January 6th

January 6th, 2021 violently shifted the world’s view of contemporary American politics. When Donald Trump-supporting insurrectionists stormed the United States Capitol Building, it sparked a series of investigations, reports, and...
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Joan Walsh
Robert Costa
Jeff Sharlet

Yellowface: R.F. Kuang in Conversation with Roxane Gay

Both award-winning and bestselling authors R.F. Kuang (Babel, The Poppy War) and Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist, Hunger) write probing social commentary on the intersections of race and gender. R.F. Kuang’s...
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R. F. Kuang
Roxane Gay

Greek Lessons: Han Kang in Conversation with Katie Kitamura

Han Kang’s Booker Prize-winning 2016 novel The Vegetarian solidified her place as a master of the surreal, and is a powerful reminder that what makes surrealist narratives so haunting is...
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Katie Kitamura
Han Kang

Spirited Away – Haunted Novels

Four acclaimed writers–Namwali Serpell (The Furrows), Kevin Chen (Ghost Town), Joseph Han (Nuclear Family), and Samanta Schweblin (Seven Empty Houses) convene for one special event exploring and excavating the invisible...
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Evan Harris
Samanta Schweblin
Kevin Chen
Joseph Han
Namwali Serpell
Day 4
13 May 2023

PEN America and Lush Cosmetics present The Banned Book Library (Day 2)

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...
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Vital Voices from Indie Lit Publishers

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...
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Indie Lit Fair

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...
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Translation Manifesto

In 1969, the PEN America Translation Committee released a manifesto ahead of the 1970 “World of Translation” conference, the first gathering of its kind in the United States. The manifesto...
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Jennifer Croft
Alexa Frank
Aaron Robertson
Anton Hur
Bonnie Chau

Worker Writers School

“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...
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Ukrainian Writers at War

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...
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Artem Chapeye
Artem Chekh
Iryna Tsilyk
Phil Klay

Objectivity in the Era of Polarity

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”...
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Wesley Lowery
Robert Costa
Suzanne Nossel
Jelani Cobb
Margaret Sullivan

Kaleidoscope: Poetic Forms and Collective Histories

When we hear “kaleidoscope,” we imagine a lensed instrument revealing striking, mesmeric patterns. But the word kaleidoscope itself, derived from the Greek kalos, “beautiful,” + eidos, “form,” reminds us that...
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Douglas Kearney
Monica Youn
Courtney Faye Taylor

Writer/Scholar/Target: Online Harassment and the Threat to Free Expression

Join us for a conversation on the polarized climate in the United States, amidst the movement for human rights in Iran, and around the world.
Franklin Leonard
Reza Aslan
Jean Guerrero headshot
Jean Guerrero

Standing in the Shadows of History

Truth may be stranger than fiction, but in fascinating novels from Juan Gabriel Vásquez, Anne Berest, and Anne Weber, the two realms powerfully meld and mirror each other. Vásquez’s latest...
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Zain Khalid
Juan Gabriel Vásquez
Anne Weber
Anne Berest

Writing Truthfully for Kids about Today’s Issues

Children’s and YA literature have increasingly become war zones of conflicting values, with educators, parents, and politicians battling over what kinds of books should be accessible to young readers. A...
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Padma Venkatraman
Zetta Elliott
Traci Sorell
Ruta Sepetys
Kyle Lukoff

Fireside Chat: Marlon James and Ben Okri – A Fire in My Head

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...
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Marlon James
Ben Okri

Under a Wild Sky: Conversations with Birds and the Songs of Poets

A celebration of avian life in a stunning setting in the gardens at The Huntington.
Julian Talamantez Brolaski
Priyanka Kumar
Eloise Klein Healy

Intelligence and Artifice: How will A.I. Change Literature?

In late November of 2022, the company OpenAI released its revolutionary ChatGPT technology, a free artificial-intelligence chatbot, to the world. Since then, op-ed sections, social media platforms, and brunch tables...
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Meghan O’Gieblyn
Andrew Marantz
Hari Kunzru

Legacies of Dislocation, War, and Revolution

What are the ripple effects of world-altering events on individual lives? How are relationships unsettled, communities unmoored, and faultlines gradually revealed? This event brings together an international array of novelists...
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Dinaw Mengestu
Tsering Yangzom Lama
Fatin Abbas
Ben Okri

Politicized: Writing Trans Narratives Today

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...
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Geena Rocero
Maya Gittelman
James Hannaham
Jeremiah Moss

Second Acts: Resolution & Irresolution after Memoir

Writing a memoir typically requires condensing the messiness and nonlinearity of a life into a narrative structure, with a beginning, middle, and end. And while biographers of historical figures can...
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Miwa Messer
Ashley C. Ford
Maggie Smith
Isaac Fitzgerald

Friends for Life: The Complicated, Unbreakable Bonds

What role do friendships play in our lives—setting us on new paths, grounding us, dissolving and reappearing at critical moments—and how do they shape the stories of who we are?...
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Sayaka Murata
Mona Awad
Yiyun Li
Kamila Shamsie

The Second Novel

The journey to and from a second novel can be more fraught than writing and publishing a first. The anticipation of it being measured against the first—and ultimately better-received, or...
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Alexander Chee
Garth Greenwell
Khaled Hosseini
Marlon James
Elif Batuman

For the People: An Evening with Mahogany L. Browne, Kaitlyn Greenidge, Rachel Eliza Griffiths Elizabeth Nunez, Imani Perry, Patricia Smith, and Tyriek White

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.
Kaitlyn Greenidge
Patricia Smith
Imani Perry
Tyriek Rashawn White
Elizabeth Nunez
Rachel Eliza Griffiths
Mahogany L. Browne