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Pen American Center

Hebdo's Dubious PEN-Pals: Privileged Conservative Pundits

Jim Sleeper | Posted 05.06.2015 | Politics
Jim Sleeper

History offers D.H. Lawrence's warning that influential people shouldn't stimulate others' "personal, superficial, temporary desires" but "tell us of our own deeper desires." The powers that conservatives champion have been doing the former, with increasing velocity.

Even Jews Can Ignore Jewish Suffering?

Lev Raphael | Posted 05.05.2015 | Books
Lev Raphael

Why didn't they demand inclusive language or refuse to sign? What did they have to lose? I don't belong to PEN -- but if I did, I'd be ashamed to sign a letter that ignored the plight of French Jews.

What Does Literature Look Like Today?

PEN American Center | Posted 11.16.2014 | Books
PEN American Center

As the boundaries between personal and political, and between artistic mediums, becomes ever more permeable, it's time to ask: What does literature look like today? Who are these heirs of the literary greats? Who are the readers, writers, dreamers and defenders of the written word?

Haiti: Free the Word

PEN American Center | Posted 10.04.2014 | Arts
PEN American Center

PEN Haiti celebrated its 3rd Libérez la Parole festival of literature from July 18 to July 27 in the cities of Gonaives, Petit-Goave, and Thomassin, Haiti.

SHORTLISTED: The 2014 PEN Literary Awards

PEN American Center | Posted 08.20.2014 | Books
PEN American Center

Spanning fiction, essays, science writing, biography, sports writing, translation and children's books, the 2014 PEN Literary Awards celebrate the best of literature from around the world.

#FreeIlham: Writers Pose for a Cause

PEN American Center | Posted 07.19.2014 | Arts
PEN American Center

As his daughter Jewher Ilham accepted the award on his behalf, she had one last request from the luminaries in the room, who included James Salter, Jennifer Egan, John Waters and even members of Pussy Riot: support the campaign for her father's release online with the hashtag #FreeIlham.

PEN Ten with Molly Crabapple

PEN American Center | Posted 07.13.2014 | Arts
PEN American Center

I don't live in a context where to make art is that daring. I'm not Ai Weiwei or Laura Poitras. I was scared to write about my own abortion, a fear that turned out not to be justified, and I was scared to write about Guantanamo because it felt too big and grave.

Optimism in Check, Nihilism at Bay

Paul Rome | Posted 04.22.2014 | Impact
Paul Rome

I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to explore and develop my ideas without fear of punishment or jail time.

Open Season on Russian Gays and Lesbians

Joseph Huff-Hannon | Posted 04.21.2014 | Impact
Joseph Huff-Hannon

For an authoritarian state, a law that is rarely, or only very selectively enforced, yet gives agents of the state broad leeway to police their citizens, and leads to wide ranging changes in public and private behavior, is the best kind of law there is.

Steamrolling Onto the World Stage

Sasha Senderovich | Posted 04.20.2014 | Impact
Sasha Senderovich

Propelled by this personal ambition, the Sochi Olympics appear to be a giant steamroller crushing so many things on its way.

Putin, Ventriloquism and Free Speech

Eliot Borenstein | Posted 04.16.2014 | Impact
Eliot Borenstein

The Russian government has gotten back into the story business.

What Would Vladimir Putin Do?

Sarah M. Hoffman | Posted 04.15.2014 | Impact
Sarah M. Hoffman

It's the perfect time to ask, what would Brian Boitano do? He'd fight the evil robot king and save the human race again.

We Don't Need Your Stories: President Obama and Sensationalizing Surveillance

Deji Olukotun | Posted 02.08.2014 | Books
Deji Olukotun

Whether or not NSA employees themselves are "interested" in reading text messages does not change the fact that they can, and the checks and balances that should in principle limit their ability to do so have failed to work.

Visualizing the Digital Repression of Writers

Deji Olukotun | Posted 01.23.2014 | Books
Deji Olukotun

Since PEN is a 90-year-old organization that has had some illustrious writers in its membership, we had to decide who we would consider a writer in the 21st century.

Half of All Writers-at-Risk Persecuted for Use of Digital Media

PEN American Center | Posted 01.23.2014 | Media
PEN American Center

As digital technology expands, new tools have emerged that empower writers but also better enable repressive governments to target them. As of June 2013, 92 writers were in prison for their use of digital media, and another 51 on trial.

Writers Fear NSA 'Chilling' Effect

The Huffington Post | Matt Sledge | Posted 11.13.2013 | Politics

American writers are increasingly fearful of government surveillance in the wake of Edward Snowden's revelations about the National Security Agency an...

Growing Online Censorship Sparks Writers to Action

PEN American Center | Posted 12.08.2013 | Media
PEN American Center

Writers serve on the front lines of free expression in countries around the world, and new technologies have empowered them to respond creatively to events more quickly than ever before.

Sharing Your Truth

PEN American Center | Posted 11.23.2013 | Books
PEN American Center

Do people need protecting from art? I don't think so. Art starts a dialogue with those who come into contact with it. It doesn't attack you or force you to see things from its perspective.

Banned Books Week at PEN

PEN American Center | Posted 11.20.2013 | Books
PEN American Center

Gay penguins, a superhero clad in briefs, vampires and witches, bondage -- next week is all about banned books here at PEN as we join librarians, booksellers, publishers and writers to celebrate the freedom to read.

PEN 10: An Interview with Masha Hamilton

PEN American Center | Posted 08.04.2013 | Books
PEN American Center

I've written on moving subways and in war zones, in cemeteries and in hospitals, as well as more prosaically in libraries and behind desks.

PEN International: Mobilizing Writers to Defend Free Speech

Ru Freeman | Posted 07.08.2013 | Books
Ru Freeman

PEN deserves to be recognized for the work the member centers have done to produce their new report, "Creativity and Constraint in Today's China." It's like a mirror held up to a face that asks: Is this what you want to look like to the world?

PEN Translation Fund Donor's Identity Revealed

Susan Bernofsky | Posted 12.03.2012 | Books
Susan Bernofsky

"He was enormously embarrassed at the thought of being publicly associated with the donation, and insisted on complete anonymity. Mike had a visceral horror of money, which he associated with excess. He explained that the money was the death benefit that his mother received in 1945."

The Banning of Harry Potter

Deji Olukotun | Posted 11.07.2012 | Books
Deji Olukotun

Harry Potter is now the most banned book in America, according to the American Library Association. But these books have taught children to read, to think, to write and to criticize, all hallmarks of free expression.

A Bold New Literary Festival in Haiti

Deji Olukotun | Posted 06.30.2012 | World
Deji Olukotun

Two years after Georges Anglade's death, PEN Haiti announced its re-emergence on the international literary scene with full fanfare last weekend.

The Truth About Torture

Richard Geldard | Posted 07.25.2011 | World
Richard Geldard

In the dust-up following the death of bin Laden, a too-soon forgotten issue came alive again when Bush-era pols surfaced to claim that the "enhanced interrogation" (read torture) of detainees gave us crucial intelligence.