PEN World Voices Festival 2014

Narrow your focus during this week of international free-speech readings, talks and panels with our handy one-a-day guide.

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  • Photograph: Francisco Posse

    Andrés Neuman

  • Photograph: Courtesy of PEN World Voices

    Chinelo Okparanta

  • Photograph: Courtesy of PEN World Voices

    László Krasznahorkai

  • Photograph: John Soares

    Noam Chomsky

  • Photograph: Courtesy of PEN World Voices

    Nadifa Mohamed

  • Colm Toibin

    Colm Tóibín

    Colm Toibin

Photograph: Francisco Posse

Andrés Neuman


When PEN’s annual World Voices Festival rolls around, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. Each day in the fest is packed with events. As always, the readings, workshops, interviews and panel discussions feature writers and champions of free speech around the world. To narrow the field for lit lovers, we’ve chosen one event to highlight each day.

April 28: “Opening Night: On the Edge”
The week kicks off with which brings together an incredibly diverse and opinionated group for a series of seven-minute “mini-soliloquies of unrestrained intellectual fury.” Even more exciting are the names of those who will be ranting: Noam Chomsky, Salman Rushdie, Kenyan political cartoonist Gado, Syrian poet Adonis and several others. Cooper Union, Great Hall, 7 E 7th St at Third Ave. 7pm; $20.

April 29: The Literary Safari
Combining two New York pastimes—reading and voyeurism—is a crowd-pleasing, free-flowing reading party that takes over an entire apartment building (the Westbeth Center artist-housing complex) for an evening. Drift through the homes of gregarious New Yorkers while catching snippets of stories from writers including Linn Ullmann, Elinor Lipman and Andrés Neuman. Westbeth Center for the Arts, 55 Bethune St at Washington St. 6:30pm; $20.

April 30: Literary Death Match
The traveling, international LDM is always a loose, lively and funny competition. For this PEN World Voices edition, the all-star cast of readers exhibits an international influence, with authors including Bae Suah and Alona Kimhi, but also local celebs Parker Posey and Michael Ian Black. Ace Hotel, 20 W 29th St at Broadway. 7pm, $20.

May 1: "Writing War"
Articulate, emotionally engaged writing hasw always been one of the best methods for articulating the horrors of war to those on the home front. This panel features a number of writers who have found ways to make sense of battle, both modern and ancient. Among the speakers: Phil Klay (Redeployment) and Nadifa Mohamed (Black Mamba Boy). The New School, Wollman Hall, 65 W 11th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves. 7pm; $20.

May 2: The Literary Mews

All day long, the charming Washington Mews (on the NYU campus) hosts authors and panels in a sort of minifestival. During this popular holdover from 2013, writers including Chinelo Okparanta talk about their muses, publisher Archipelago Books highlights some of its recent titles, and four writers represent the new Asian–Pacific American avant-garde. Washington Mews, enter on University Pl between Washington Sq North and W 8th St. 10am–8:30pm; free.

May 3: The Re-Interview with Martin Amis and Michael Stipe
One of the fest’s big tickets involves R.E.M.’s  Stipe and Carroll Gardens resident Amis. The artists will be posed the same questions they were asked by Interview Magazine decades ago, and they’ll be asked to comment on the answers their younger selves gave at the time. The New School, 66 W 12th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves. 7:30pm; $20.

May 4: Master/Class: László Krasznahorkai and Colm Tóibín
Two minds converse about history, lyricism, publishing and more, as they relate to writing. Famed Hungarian novelist László Krasznahorkai challenges readers with his dense but rewarding titles, including last year’s translation of Seiobo There Below; in addition to novels including Brooklyn, Irishman Colm Tóibín is widely recognized for essays, plays, poems and shorter tales. The Cooper Union, Rose Auditorium, 41 Cooper Sq between 6th and 7th Sts. 4:30pm; $15.

PEN World Voices Festival happens April 28–May 4. Head to worldvoices.pen.org for further details.


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