[CANCELED] Unsettled Histories

Panel Discussion
07 May 2020
7:00 pm-8:30 pm
SubCulture
45 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10012

Many histories of collective trauma—of genocide, of civil war, of state terror and much else—become unsettled, contested by competing political narratives and sometimes willful ignorance of the facts. In tonight’s program, three highly engaged observers of contemporary politics excavate essential truths that risk being buried by cultural amnesia. Bosnian/American novelist, essayist, and journalist Aleksandar Hemon weighs in on artists’ failures to hold themselves accountable to history, including in the controversial awarding of the 2019 Nobel Prize for Literature to Peter Handke. Oksana Zabuzhko, a hugely influential writer across genres in Ukraine, speaks on invoking art to critique repression, including Russian occupation of Crimea. British/Indian novelist and journalist Hari Kunzru’s new work meditates on the power of propaganda machines from Nazism to the Alt-Right and the writer’s duty to sift fact from fiction in times of madness and dysphoria. Don’t miss this important the conversation about the responsibility of writers to preserve truth and protect cultural memory against false ‘histories’ that deny facts even in spite of overwhelming evidence.

This event has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. Please stay tuned for updates about future PEN World Voices Festival programming.

Oksana Zabuzhko
Hari Kunzru
Aleksandar Hemon

Event Sponsors


The live events of the 2020 World Voices Festival have been canceled due to concerns about the safety of participants and audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In early May, we launched the 2020 digital World Voices Festival at pen.org/worldvoicesdigital. This ongoing digital version of the Festival includes a suite of podcasts, videos, interviews, and musical playlists, with live events and other features to be rolled out over the coming weeks. We hope this digital content brings you joy during a time of uncertainty.

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook (@PENWorldVoices) for updates about future PEN World Voices Festival programming.