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Welcome to the 2020 digital World Voices Festival, These Truths.

The PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature traditionally brings hundreds of writers from around the world to New York and Los Angeles each spring, drawing audiences of thousands to book talks, readings, and lectures. With those in-person events now impossible to convene, PEN America has curated an ongoing digital version of the Festival that includes a suite of podcasts, videos, interviews, and musical playlists, with live events and other features to be rolled out over the coming weeks.

In an era when the agreed-upon factual basis of our daily news is constantly undermined, there has never been a greater need for us to hear the deeper truths afforded by literature. This virtual edition of America’s premier international literary festival will engage with contested histories and memory, challenge the fabrications of truth served to us on an almost daily basis, and celebrate the beauty and power of storytelling.

What’s New

These Truths: Navigating Truths with Ishmael Beah and Alexis Okeowo

These Truths: Navigating Truths with Ishmael Beah and Alexis Okeowo

Sierra Leonean-American author Ishmael Beah and The New Yorker staff writer Alexis Okeowo discuss how fiction can help us navigate some of the most unrelenting humanitarian crises of our age.
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PEN to Paper: Writing the Landscape with Janet Fitch

PEN to Paper: Writing the Landscape with Janet Fitch

Janet Fitch, the best-selling author of White Oleander, reminds us why it is so important to create a world that readers can enter.
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Indie Lit Fair, Vol. Three

Indie Lit Fair, Vol. Three

Presses, publishers, and literary magazines including Barrelhouse, Nightboat Books, Shade Mountain Press, and more share discounts and highlights from their favorite titles in this third installment of the virtual edition of this year's Indie Lit Fair.
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Just Press Play with Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Just Press Play with Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Maurice Carlos Ruffin, author of We Cast a Shadow, a finalist for the 2020 PEN/Open Book Award, shares a soundtrack to his life.
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Editor’s Picks

These Truths: Prison & Justice Writing with Reginald Dwayne Betts

These Truths: Prison & Justice Writing with Reginald Dwayne Betts

Poet Reginald Dwayne Betts discusses the writer’s role in deepening the American public’s understanding of mass incarceration with our Prison and Justice Writing Program.
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Just Press Play with Emily Raboteau

Just Press Play with Emily Raboteau

Novelist and essayist Emily Raboteau powers you through the week with a playlist ranging from Sam Cooke to Bob Marley and The Wailers.
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These Truths: Ben Okri’s The Freedom Artist with Anderson Tepper

These Truths: Ben Okri’s The Freedom Artist with Anderson Tepper

Novelist, poet, playwright, essayist and short story writer, Ben Okri speaks with Anderson Tepper, member of the editorial staff of Vanity Fair, about his latest novel, The Freedom Artist.
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The PEN Ten: An Interview with Roya Marsh

The PEN Ten: An Interview with Roya Marsh

“Poetry is a vehicle for delivering truth and possibility. It allows room for the impossible to live.”
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These Truths: Exploring literature and the deeper truths that connect us

The World Voices podcast convenes important writers to debate the most central questions of our time, like the meaning of freedom in a post-truth age and the vulnerability of language in a time of tyranny.

These Truths: Navigating Truths with Ishmael Beah and Alexis Okeowo

These Truths: Navigating Truths with Ishmael Beah and Alexis Okeowo

Sierra Leonean-American author Ishmael Beah and The New Yorker staff writer Alexis Okeowo discuss how fiction can help us navigate some of the most unrelenting humanitarian crises of our age.
Read More
These Truths: Prison & Justice Writing with Reginald Dwayne Betts

These Truths: Prison & Justice Writing with Reginald Dwayne Betts

Poet Reginald Dwayne Betts discusses the writer’s role in deepening the American public’s understanding of mass incarceration with our Prison and Justice Writing Program.
Read More
These Truths: Cry, the Beloved Country with Tatiana Voltskaya, Tahir Hamut, and Burhan Sönmez

These Truths: Cry, the Beloved Country with Tatiana Voltskaya, Tahir Hamut, and Burhan Sönmez

Writers from around the world—Russian poet and journalist Tatiana Voltskaya, Uyghur poet Tahir Hamut, and Turkish novelist Burhan Sönmez—challenge the status quo in their home countries.
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These Truths: Respecting the Silence with Fernanda Melchor and Yuri Herrera

These Truths: Respecting the Silence with Fernanda Melchor and Yuri Herrera

Fernanda Melchor, journalist and author of Hurricane Season, recently shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize, speaks with Yuri Herrera, whose next book, A Silent Fury: The El Bordo Mine Fire, comes out in June.
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Just Press Play: Writers you read bring you the music they love

From the balconies of Milan to the speakers of our smartphones, these playlists from writers around the world remind us all that music, like books, can connect humanity from a distance.

Just Press Play with Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Just Press Play with Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Maurice Carlos Ruffin, author of We Cast a Shadow, a finalist for the 2020 PEN/Open Book Award, shares a soundtrack to his life.
Read More
Just Press Play with Hari Kunzru

Just Press Play with Hari Kunzru

Hari Kunzru, 2018 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award finalist for his novel, White Tears, shares a playlist to facilitate meditative writing.
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Just Press Play with Emily Raboteau

Just Press Play with Emily Raboteau

Novelist and essayist Emily Raboteau powers you through the week with a playlist ranging from Sam Cooke to Bob Marley and The Wailers.
Read More
Just Press Play with Jennifer Finney Boylan

Just Press Play with Jennifer Finney Boylan

This playlist comes from Jennifer Finney Boylan, the prolific writer whose memoir was the first best-selling work by a transgender American.
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PEN to Paper: An espresso shot of creative inspiration from your favorite writers

Each workshop provides a single, unique exercise to jumpstart your writing practice. Through these videos, our audiences gain brief, intimate connections to their favorite writers and exclusive insights into their craft.

PEN to Paper: The Revision Cycle with Emily X. R. Pan

PEN to Paper: The Revision Cycle with Emily X. R. Pan

YA author Emily X. R. Pan takes us on a deep dive into her favorite part of writing, the revision process, which she proves is more fun than you might think.
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PEN to Paper: Writing Through Intuition with Ananda Naima González

PEN to Paper: Writing Through Intuition with Ananda Naima González

Ananda Naima González helps us achieve total freedom from the conventions of literary expression through “asemic writing.”
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PEN to Paper: Writing the Landscape with Janet Fitch

PEN to Paper: Writing the Landscape with Janet Fitch

Janet Fitch, the best-selling author of White Oleander, reminds us why it is so important to create a world that readers can enter.
Read More
PEN to Paper: Embrace the Incongruity with Adam Falkner

PEN to Paper: Embrace the Incongruity with Adam Falkner

Poet and educator Adam Falkner encourages us to embrace the incongruities of life with a writing prompt inspired by Shakespeare.
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Writers in Residence: A slice of life from beyond the writing desk

Explore life beyond the writing desk in this home video series, which introduces audiences to writers’ interior lives and hidden talents in a time of quarantine.

Writers in Residence: Preserving Memories with Si’an CHEN

Writers in Residence: Preserving Memories with Si’an CHEN

Si’an CHEN shares a simple process for preserving specimens of the natural world that delight and inspire her.
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Writers in Residence: A Poem-From-Home with Oksana Vasyakina

Writers in Residence: A Poem-From-Home with Oksana Vasyakina

Poet Oksana Vasyakina invites us into her study, where she shares her latest piece, “These people didn’t know my father.”
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Writers in Residence: Stitch in This Time with Elisabeth Åsbrink

Writers in Residence: Stitch in This Time with Elisabeth Åsbrink

Elisabeth Åsbrink shows us how she uses embroidery to create beautiful patterns that tell their own stories.
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Writers in Residence: Cooking Gumbo Z’herbes with Fatima Shaik

Writers in Residence: Cooking Gumbo Z’herbes with Fatima Shaik

Fatima Shaik teaches us how to cook delicious gumbo z’herbes.
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Virtual Story Times

In these virtual storytimes from our Next Generation Now series, writers read aloud stories that captivate the imagination of kids, teens and young adults.

Next Generation Now Virtual Storytime with Mae Respicio

Next Generation Now Virtual Storytime with Mae Respicio

Middle grade author Mae Respicio shares a reading and writing prompt inspired by her newest book, Any Day with You, in which a girl uses her creativity to keep her family together.
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Next Generation Now Virtual Storytime with Kevin Noble Maillard

Next Generation Now Virtual Storytime with Kevin Noble Maillard

Kevin Noble Maillard depicts a modern Native American family as they explore the cultural significance of a favorite dish in lively and powerful verse.
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Next Generation Now Virtual Storytime with Isaac Fitzgerald

Next Generation Now Virtual Storytime with Isaac Fitzgerald

Isaac Fitzgerald shares the empowering and heartwarming tale of a child who feels like a misfit and becomes a pirate instead.
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Next Generation Now Virtual Storytime with Nic Stone

Next Generation Now Virtual Storytime with Nic Stone

Middle grade and young adult fiction author Nic Stone shares one of her favorite passages from Dear Justyce, the sequel to her New York Times best-selling novel, Dear Martin.
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Indie Lit Fair: Showcasing the breadth of independent magazines and presses our country has to offer

The Community of Literary Magazines and Publishers’ annual book fair at the World Voices Festival goes digital in these weekly reading lists featuring independent presses and small publishers.

Indie Lit Fair, Vol. One

Indie Lit Fair, Vol. One

This is the first installment of a virtual edition of the Indie Lit Fair this year, highlighting the work of presses, publishers, and literary magazines such as Electric Literature, Kaya Press, and No, Dear.
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Indie Lit Fair, Vol. Two

Indie Lit Fair, Vol. Two

Learn more about presses, publishers, and literary magazines like Hanging Loose Press, Indolent Books, and Please See Me in this second installment of the virtual edition of this year's Indie Lit Fair.
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Indie Lit Fair, Vol. Three

Indie Lit Fair, Vol. Three

Presses, publishers, and literary magazines including Barrelhouse, Nightboat Books, Shade Mountain Press, and more share discounts and highlights from their favorite titles in this third installment of the virtual edition of this year's Indie Lit Fair.
Read More

World Voices Festival Partnerships

WVF2018 TranslationSlam

Translating the Future

The art of translation takes center stage in this weekly series of virtual talks, marking the 50th anniversary of PEN America’s historic World of Translation conference. Coming soon!

Kamau Brathwaite

A Celebration of Kamau Brathwaite

In this tribute to the late Kamau Brathwaite, one of the great poet-thinkers of our time, acclaimed writers Honor Ford-Smith, Aracelis Girmay, M. NourbeSe Philip, Roger Guenveur Smith, and Christian Campbell celebrate his 90th birthday with readings, remembrances, and conversation about his legacy.

SEE EVENT

Interviews: The PEN Ten

The PEN Ten: An Interview with Megha Majumdar

The PEN Ten: An Interview with Megha Majumdar

“Stories help us imagine what it is like to be another person—to strive as they do, to cope as they do, to celebrate as they do—and that’s a vital task of imagination.”
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The PEN Ten: An Interview with Zaina Arafat

The PEN Ten: An Interview with Zaina Arafat

“So much of my writing is informed by my identity as a queer woman of color and a desire to combat that invisibility and erasure.”
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The PEN Ten: An Interview with Nathalie Handal

The PEN Ten: An Interview with Nathalie Handal

“A poem is the music of mystery, and until we embrace mystery, we can’t fully be.”
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The PEN Ten: An Interview with Genevieve Hudson

The PEN Ten: An Interview with Genevieve Hudson

“At their best, stories reveal the truth. They help us see the impact we have on ourselves, on our society, and on our planet.”
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Further Reading

Epic Novels, Sweeping Sagas: An APA Heritage Month Reading List

Epic Novels, Sweeping Sagas: An APA Heritage Month Reading List

This reading list comes to us from Asian American Writers Workshop Executive Director Jafreen Uddin, and is a continuation of our efforts to amplify Asian American voices in literature.
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Asian American Voices: An Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month Reading List

Asian American Voices: An Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month Reading List

In response to violence directed at individuals of Asian descent, we’ve sought to help amplify contemporary Asian American voices in this reading list.
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Found in Translation: A Reading List Featuring the 2020 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation Honorees

Found in Translation: A Reading List Featuring the 2020 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation Honorees

To celebrate National Poetry Month, we invite you to read the collections from the 2020 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation Longlist.
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PEN World Voices 2020: A Festival Reading List

PEN World Voices 2020: A Festival Reading List

PEN America’s World Voices Festival is proud to share these books, newly and soon-to-be published by authors due to appear at the 2020 World Voices Festival.
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Become a World Voices Festival Insider

Sign up to have the latest digital content from the PEN World Voices Festival delivered directly to your inbox. You’ll get updates on authors you already love and others you’ll love to know.

About the PEN World Voices Festival

The PEN World Voices Literary Festival is the premier celebration of international literature in the United States, a landmark event on New York City’s, and now Los Angeles’s, cultural calendar. Each spring, the Festival presents writers from the United States and around the world in a week of cross-cultural exchanges and events—from lively debates that delve into the most pressing issues of our time, to intimate conversations that awaken us to the quiet beauty and power of literature. An engaging program of talks, panels, conversations, and performances draws a vibrant and diverse crowd of socially engaged and intellectually curious New Yorkers and LA audiences, who are eager to be challenged, inspired, and entertained.

PEN America thanks the following sponsors for their support of the 2020 PEN World Voices Festival:

The National Endowment for the Arts
New York State Council on the Arts
The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs
The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (New York City)
Amazon Literary Partnership
The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation
Acton Family Giving

Join Us

Becoming a PEN America Member today means becoming a supporter of the PEN World Voices Festival. Sign up now as a reader or writer Member and join thousands across the country in defending our freedom of expression.