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PEN Festival Draws Writers From Across Globe

By Mary Johnson | March 1, 2012 3:28pm
Author Salman Rushdie founded the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, which will take place in New York City from April 30 to May 6, 2012.
Author Salman Rushdie founded the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, which will take place in New York City from April 30 to May 6, 2012.
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Jerod Harris/Getty Images

MANHATTAN — Renowned writers from around the world — including Margaret Atwood, Jennifer Egan, Tony Kushner, Michael Cunningham and Colson Whitehead — will head to New York City in the coming months to take part in the eighth annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature.

The festival, founded by Salman Rushdie, aims to use creative and unexpected methods to engage people in literature, according to the festival’s website. It will take place at venues across the city from April 30 to May 6.

"In an era of ever-expanding 'screen-time,' live/in-person readings, conversations and literary performances have never been more radical or more necessary," Rushdie said in a statement. "These live events break down the invisible walls that separate us into our own solitary computer pods and re-assert the importance of dialogue, activism and community without borders."

A full roster of festival events will be available on March 15, but several highlights include a performance at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that will pair the Kronos Quartet with writers Tony Kushner, Marjane Satrapi and Rula Jebreal to explore the boundaries between music and literature.

The festival has partnered with the Museum of Modern Art to present a rarely seen original recording of a 1970 slide presentation by the late photographer Diane Arbus in which she speaks about photography using her own work and other pieces from her collection.

The theater ensemble Elevator Repair Service, which is known for adapting novels to the stage, will present a public performance developed exclusively for the festival.

Festival-goers will be invited on a so-called "literary safari," trolling through the halls of Westbeth, a West Village artists' community, where they will be treated to readings by a range of authors, including Elias Khoury, Giannina Braschi and Peter Schneider.

Processional Arts Workshop, the official pageant puppeteers of New York’s Village Halloween parade, will present a procession of puppets, illuminated objects and projections on the High Line at sundown.

"As always, the festival will amplify world voices," festival director Laszlo Jakab Orsos said in a statement. "But this year, there is increasing emphasis on how we amplify them. We are exploring new and unconventional ways for writers to be heard above the din — whether by pairing literature with other art forms, or by inviting greater audience participation."

For a full listing of events, dates and venues, visit the PEN festival website.