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PEN America World Voices Festival 2023: History, Power & Struggle


Featuring more than 100 writers from 27 countries, the PEN America World Voices Festival is a celebration of writers and performers from around the world making their voices heard against the forces of censorship and oppression. Running May 10 to the 13th the festival includes performances in NYC and the greater Los Angeles area. The opening night festivities on May 11 features An Evening with Nobel Laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah at the NYU Skirball Center. Known for his work chronicling an Africa on the brink of change while shedding light on the legacies and consequences of European colonialism, Abdulrazak Gurnah will be there along with with Booker Prize-shortlisted novelist Nadifa Mohamed, Windham Campbell Literature Prize winner Aminatta Forna, acclaimed actor Esau Pritchett, Sudanese American musician Alsarah, and others.

PEN Letters: A Centenary Celebration is a 100-year journey through archival letters, notes, and speeches detailing PEN America's history held at Joe’s Pub. Los Angeles events include Writer/Scholar/Target: Online Harassment and the Threat to Free Expression on May 13th and Woman, Life, Freedom: The Role of Art in the Struggle For Human Rights on May 10th.

Speakers across the festival include:

  • Natalie Diaz
  • Jennifer Egan
  • Abdulrazak Gurnah
  • Saidiya Hartman
  • Sheila Heti
  • Andrey Kurkov
  • Eileen Myles
  • Jason Reynolds
  • Gary Shteyngart
  • Leïla Slimani
  • Alejandro Zambra

And many more.

The closing night event is An Evening of Forbidden Books. In response to the recent onslaught of book bans across the country, PEN America is convening a celebration of the freedom to write, read, and think featuring dramatic readings from some of the most “dangerous” texts ever printed, from writers including Toni Morrison, Art Spiegelman, Kurt Vonnegut, and more.

To learn more, go to:

PEN America World Voices Festival
May 10 - 13, 2023

New York City & Los Angeles

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