PEN World Voices Festival 2016

The PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature is one of the world’s premier literary events. It brings the world’s most famous writers to New York City for a week of thought, conversation, reading, and writing.

2016 PEN World Voices Festival

This year’s festival is titled “Renegotiating the Narratives” with a focus on the cultural and social issues of Mexico. Renegotiating narratives is important because if we don’t update our ideas, we become imprisoned by stereotypes.

“What the United States does best is understand itself. What it does worse is understand others”
Carlos Fuentes

The PEN World Voices Festival helps us understand each other. The Festival draws the world’s literary elite, but it is not only for them. It is an opportunity to meet and listen to the world’s greatest literary voices. It is also an inspiration to raise your own literary voice (always with respect and love).

This is a huge Festival.

These are some of the highlights.

Opening Night: The Drug Edition

Monday, April 25 at 7pm
Great Hall of Cooper Union
7 East 7th St in Greenwich Village

The PEN World Voices Festival 2016 opens Monday, April 25 at 7pm in the Great Hall of The Cooper Union with a discussion by leading international authors about society’s need for mind-altering drugs and our desire to escape reality.

Hear the perspectives of international writers Boris Akunin (Georgian, 1956), Lydia Cacho (Mexican), Anne Enright (Irish), Guillermo Gomez-Peña (Mexican), Marlon James (Jamaican, 1970), Paul Muldoon (Irish), Olga Tokarczuk (Polish), Juan Villoro (Mexican).

The Great Hall of The Cooper Union was where an unknown senator from Illinois gave a speech on February 27, 1860 that made him famous and set him on the path to becoming one of America’s great presidents. His name was Abraham Lincoln. You should visit the Great Hall at least once in your New York life.

In Conversation: Salman Rushdie and Barbara Goldsmith

Wednesday, April 27 at 8pm
Tishman Auditorium at the NYU School of Law
40 Washington Square South in Greenwich Village

Wednesday, April 27 at 8pm, the Festival offers a conversation between two great authors.

Sir Ahmad Salman Rushdie (Mumbai, India 1947) is a world-famous Indian-British novelist whose work combines magical realism and historical fiction. In a way, that makes him Latin because in our lives the magic is very real.

Rushdie rose to prominence for “Midnight’s Children” (1981). It’s the story of a child born at the moment when India became independent. The child’s ability to connect with others led to a new age of history. Rushdie became a truly global figure during the controversy about his fourth novel “The Satanic Verses” (1988).

Barbara Goldsmith (New York City) is an American author and journalist who began her career writing about art and those who create it. She was the founding editor of “New York Magazine” and later a senior editor of “Harper’s Bazaar.”

Women of Mexico

Thursday, April 28 at 8pm
Dixon Place
161A Chrystie Street in the Lower East Side

Mexico has both a traditional culture, and a tradition of strong women in the arts. Hear some of today’s leading Mexican writers: Carmen Boullosa, Valeria Luiselli, Guadalupe Nettel, Cristina Rivera-Garza.

Boris Akunin and Walter Mosley: Fiction from Fact

Saturday, April 30, 5-6:30pm
Tishman Auditorium at the NYU School of Law
40 Washington Square South in Greenwich Village

Boris Akunin is a Russian writer with a Georgian and Jewish heritage. Walter Mosley is an American writer with an African and Jewish heritage. These two historical and crime fiction writers discuss how contemporary politics and their own political views influence their work.

Objective/Reality: Gabriel Orozco with Colm Tóibín

Sunday, May 1 from 4-5:30pm
Frederick P. Rose Auditorium at The Cooper Union
41 Cooper Square (Third Ave between 6th and 7th St)

Gabriel Orozco is a respected international visual artist originally from Mexico. He manipulates found objects into art. Orozco is represented in New York City by Marian Goodman Gallery

Closing Night: The Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture

Sunday, May 1 from 6-7pm
Great Hall of Cooper Union
7 East 7th St in Greenwich Village

The PEN World Voices Festival 2016 closes Sunday May 1 at 6pm in the Great Hall of The Cooper Union. Namesake Arthur Miller was a former PEN president and strong believer in freedom of expression.

The 2016 speaker is yet to be announced. Past speakers have been great literary figures such Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Umberto Eco, Nawal El Saadawi, Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, Colm Tóibín, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Wole Soyinka.

PEN World Voices Festival 2016 Artists

This is a list of Festival participants sorted alphabetically by last name. It’s clear that they represent our world, all of it.


Yelena Akhtiorskaya (Ukrainian-American, 1985)
Boris Akunin (Jewish-Georgian-Russian, 1956)
Elizabeth Alexander (U.S. American, 1962)
Esther Allen (U.S. American, 1962)
Rachel Ansong (Ghanaian)
Kwame Anthony Appiah (British-born Ghanaian-American, 1954)
Joey Arias (U.S. American)


Eric Banks (U.S. American) is the director of the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University.

Evelyn Barish (U.S. American) is a writer and academic.

Sabina Berman (Mexican) writes for film.

Fey Berman (Mexican-American) is a journalist who writes about the cultural and sociopolitical contributions of Hispanics in the United States.

Susan Bernofsky is one of the leading translators of German literature. She directs the Literary Translation program in the MFA Writing program at Columbia University.

Omar Berrada,
Dalia Betolin-Sherman,
Elizabeth Boburg,
Carmen Boullosa,
Rebecca Brown,


Lydia Cacho,
Sophie Calle,
Héctor Aguilar Camín,
Jordan Camp,
David Campos,
Lorea Canales,
Hector Canonge,
Margaret Carson,
Miriam Celaya,
Kassahun Checole,
Jennifer Clement,
Jonathan Cohen,
Raúl Colón,
Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti,


Eisa Davis,
C. DanielDawson,
Marjolijn de Jager,
Mónica de la Torre,
Raúl de Nieves,
Linh Dinh,
Chike Frankie Edozien,


Anne Enright,
Álvaro Enrigue,
ERRO Grupo,


Luis Felipe Fabre,
Stefan Falke,
Rebecca Falkoff,
Adam Feinstein,
Ezra Fitz,
Laura Flanders,
László F. Földényi,
Lara Foot,
Hideo Furukawa,
Coco Fusco,


Jesse Gainer,
Jonathan Galassi,
Keith Gessen,
Ruth Wilson Gilmore,
Francisco Goldman,
Barbara Goldsmith,
Ann Goldstein,
Guillermo Gómez-Peña,
Trinidad González,
Ted Goossen,
Edith Grossman,
Irene Gruss,


Saleem Haddad,
Katie Halper,
Jennifer Hayashida,
Christina Heatherton,
Anne Heller,
Amy Hempel,
Yuri Herrera,
Maria Hinojosa,
Jen Hofer (American, 1971)
Sophie Hughes,

I, J

Rashidah Ismaili,
Marlon James,
Jarana Beat,
José Limón Dance Company,


Yudai Kamisato,
Joo-Hyun Kang,
Mieko Kawakami,
Roland Kelts,
Jonas Hassen Khemiri,
Jamaica Kincaid,
Wayne Koestenbaum,
Ron Kubati,
Arun Kundnani,


Laila Lalami,
Las Reinas Chulas,
Conchi León,
Claudio Lomnitz,
Valeria Luiselli,


Andreï Makine,
Jaime Manrique,
Manuel M. Martín-Rodríguez,
Rubén Martínez,
Óscar Martínez,
Ivor Martinić,
Colum McCann,
Erroll McDonald,
Maaza Mengiste,
Karim Miské,
Michael F. Moore,
Walter Mosley,
Paul Muldoon,
Michael Musto,


Shahid Nadeem,
Guadalupe Nettel,
Mark Nowak,


Sheryl Oring,
Gabriel Orozco,
Tareke Ortiz,
Guillermo Osorno,


Pedro Ángel Palou,
Deborah Paredez,
Glenn Patterson,
Veronica Gonzalez Peña,
Willie Perdomo,
Tommy Pico,
John Pluecker,
Polina Porras,
Richard Price,
Alta L. Price,
George Prochnik,


Asha Rosa Ransby-Sporn,
Susanna Reich,
Isaque Ribeiro,
Cristina Rivera-Garza,
Roxana Robinson,
Sergio González Rodríguez,
Rafael Rojas,
Yael Ronen,
Salman Rushdie,


Sunjeev Sahota,
Michael Scammell,
Natalie Scenters-Zapico,
Monique Schwitter,
Fatima Shaik,
Solmaz Sharif,
Adam Shatz,
Motoyuki Shibata,
John Siciliano,
Andrew Solomon,
Burhan Sönmez,
Ilan Stavans,
Elizabeth Streb,
Salieu Suso,
András Szántó,


Carmen Tafolla,
Abdellah Taïa,
Jennifer Tamayo,
Magali Tercero,
Judith Thurman,
Colm Tóibín,
Olga Tokarczuk,
Duncan Tonatiuh,
Marcela Turati,
Johannes Türk,

U, V, W, Z

Édgar Javier Ulloa,
Charlie Vázquez,
Alexandre Vidal Porto,
Juan Villoro,
Jorge Volpi,
Klaus Wivel,
Richard Wolin,
Oswaldo Zavala,

Mexican Literature

Mexico is a country of Native Americans with a Spanish cultural overlay, and a close association with the United States in geography, history, and people. Any conversation about Mexican culture is relevant to all Americans of the United States because the western third of our country from Texas to California was once Mexico, and Mexican-Americans are our largest and fastest-growing minority.

Mexico has the world’s largest Spanish-speaking population and is the world center of Spanish-language media. To make the biggest impact, you publish or produce in Mexico, not Spain. Notably, the United States has the world’s second-largest Spanish-speaking population.

Any examination of Mexican culture is also a reflection of our own. For example, we like to complain that drugs come to the United States from Mexico while avoiding the obvious fact that we are the consumers of those drugs. Addicts never blame themselves.

Elena Climent Festival Artwork

The Festival artwork is by New York-based, Mexican painter and muralist Elena Climent. She typically creates still life paintings of interiors that include representative elements of Mexican culture. Ms. Climent is an independent artist, but you can find her work in New York City at Mary-Anne Martin Fine Art in the Upper East Side.

For more information, visit

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