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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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?
"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."
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.