Translating and the Freedom to Write: Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan

In PEN America’s annual Freedom to Write Index, Iran and Turkey consistently rank among the top ten countries that repress writers. Azerbaijan, meanwhile, continues to harass its most prominent writer. Why are these countries so frightened of their own writers? What specific obstacles do writers face in these countries? How do they communicate with audiences at home, and why is their writing of importance to an international audience? Hear Turkey’s Ahmet Altan read from his prison memoir I’ll Never See The World Again; Azerbaijani novelist Akram Aylisli read from his trilogy Farewell, Aylis, part of which was publicly burned in 2013; and Iranian feminist writer and activist Narges Mohammadi discuss her book White Torture, which contains interviews with political prisoners about the experience of solitary confinement. Translators Frieda Afary, Yasemin Çongar, and Katherine E. Young discuss the special challenges of bringing these and other writers who live with repression into the worldwide political and literary conversation. The discussion will be moderated by Nayereh Tohidi, Professor Emerita of Gender and Women’s Studies, California State University, Northridge.

Presented in collaboration with PEN America Translation Committee.

headshot of Frieda Afary
Frieda Afary
Narges Mohammadi
Katherine E. Young
Akram Aylisli
Yasemin Çongar
Ahmet Altan
Nayereh Tohidi