BooksJacket Copy

PEN says goodbye to the sultan of Brunei's Beverly Hills Hotel

Los Angeles HotelsBruneiHotel and Accommodation IndustryArts and Culture
PEN withdraws its annual gala from the sultan of Brunei's Beverly Hills Hotel

The West Coast branch of PEN, which holds its annual benefit gala at the Beverly Hills Hotel, has changed its plans for 2014.

"As a consequence of the recent actions of its owner, the Sultan of Brunei, which are in direct opposition to the beliefs and standards upheld by PEN Center USA, the organization has declined to book a date for its 2014 Literary Awards Gala at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where the event has been held since 2006," PEN said in a statement released to The Times. "The organization’s staff and board of directors are currently exploring alternate venues for the annual celebration, which honors the best writing in the western United States."

The dual mission of PEN Center USA is to promote a literary culture and to protect freedom of expression. The latter, in particular, comes into conflict with legal code changes recently introduced by the sultan of Brunei, owner of the Beverly Hills Hotel.

The sultan introduced a new criminal code based on sharia law in his home nation. Fines and jail terms can be imposed for failing to attend Friday prayers, indecent behavior and pregnancies outside of marriage. That's just in the first phase.

The second phase, coming later this year, prescribes flogging for Muslims who consume alcohol and, for property crimes, flogging and amputation. In late 2015, the third phase will allow for death by stoning for gay sex and adultery.

In an essay for the Daily Beast, author Jillian Lauren writes, quite plainly, "one drunken evening in the early ’90s, the sultan and I committed at least two of the aforementioned offenses as we looked down on the lights of Kuala Lumpur from a penthouse suite."

For 18 months, Lauren lived as a mistress of Prince Jefri Bolkiah, the youngest brother of the sultan of Brunei. She detailed those experiences in her bestselling memoir "Some Girls: My Life in a Harem," a book that led her to be one of the writing mentors in PEN's Emerging Voices program.

PEN is doing more than stepping away from the Beverly Hills Hotel, which is owned by the sultan of Brunei's Dorchester Collection. It is halting its literary programming at another of the company's properties, the Hotel Bel-Air.

 

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
Los Angeles HotelsBruneiHotel and Accommodation IndustryArts and Culture
  • Bruno MacDonald's rock 'n' roll fantasy
    Bruno MacDonald's rock 'n' roll fantasy

    Not long ago, I got drawn into an extended Facebook conversation about the albums the Beatles might have made in the 1970s had they not split up. This is one of my favorite exercises, not only in regard to the Beatles but to everything — the alternate history of rock ’n’ roll.

  • Mexican lawyer sets Guinness record for Harry Potter collection
    Mexican lawyer sets Guinness record for Harry Potter collection

    Have you been claiming that you're the biggest Harry Potter fan in the world? A man in Mexico City would like a word with you.

  • I, library robot
    I, library robot

    A Connecticut library has acquired two fully-automated, walking, talking robots to provide independent assistance to its patrons. The robots, set to begin their duties at the Westport, Conn., library Oct. 11, will teach computer programming skills, the Wall Street Journal reports.

  • 'Inherent Vice' trailer: Thomas Pynchon via Paul Thomas Anderson

    Thomas Pynchon's 2009 novel "Inherent Vice" is one of his most accessible. The story of a stoner private eye in Southern California at the end of the 1960s is part Jim Rockford, part Raymond Chandler and part Cheech & Chong. It's noir on the beach with hippie styling and...

  • Kirkus announces finalists for its first book prizes, each $50,000
    Kirkus announces finalists for its first book prizes, each $50,000

    Kirkus Reviews, the influential book review journal, on Tuesday announced the nominees for the first-ever Kirkus Prizes in fiction, nonfiction and young readers' literature. The young readers' literature category is divided into three subcategories -- picture books, middle grade and...

  • Talking with Naja Marie Aidt about her short story collection 'Baboon'
    Talking with Naja Marie Aidt about her short story collection 'Baboon'

    The Danish writer Naja Marie Aidt’s book of stories, “Baboon” (Two Lines Press: 190 pp., $12.95 paper), is an explosive collection; strange things happen to the characters, leading to unlikely twists, through which the borders of reality blur. The first of Aidt’s...

Comments
Loading