PEN World Voices: From N.Y. to your desktop

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The PEN World Voices festival is happening right now in new York, and it’s a doozy. There are more than 50 events happening across New York City with 150 writers from 40 countries. The festival, which began on Monday, April 26, and is continuing through May 2, has included a black-tie gala, readings for high school students and just about every literary event in between.

People in New York may have a hard time getting to everything, but there is hope for them, and for those of us who are farther away still. For the first time, PEN is streaming some of its events live on its website. And they promise to be some of its best. Notable streaming PEN events include (all times Pacific):


Friday, 4 p.m.: Shirley Hazzard in conversation with Richard Ford Saturday, 10 a.m.: Patti Smith in conversation with Jonathan Lethem Saturday, noon: Toni Morrison and Marlene van Niekirk in conversation with Anthony Appiah Sunday, 3:30 p.m.: Sherman Alexie

PEN quotes Alexie as writing, ‘As print publishing is rapidly changing, and radically altering what it means to be a writer, how should we respond? To survive, we will likely become dual citizens, continuing to live and write as analog artists, but also embracing and expanding the aesthetics of digital literature.’ The award-winning author is giving the fifth annual Arthur Miller ‘freedom to write’ lecture, and while he may well talk about the shifting opportunities for writers in the digital age, he’s likely to give something that’s less a lecture than it is a performance -- worth tuning in.

On Friday, there are a couple of ‘future of’ panels that can also be accessed online. At 10 a.m. (PDT), Lewis Lapham discusses the future of journalism with Joris Luyendijk, who covered the Middle East for Dutch newspapers, radio and television; Martin Pollack, a former editor of Germany’s Der Spiegel; and Mary Anne Weaver, New Yorker correspondent who has reported from 30 countries in 30 years. At noon, author and editor Ben Shrank discusses blogs, Twitter, the Kindle and the future of reading with novelist Ben Okri, who has won the Commonwealth Prize for Africa; German author Thomas Pletzinger; Alberto Ruy-Sanchez, editor of Artes de México; and Russian writer Sergei Sokolovskiy.

Tickets to some of these events, and others, are still available -- if you can walk or cab or subway to get there.

[UPDATE: PEN World Voices has announced that Sherman Alexie will not speak; he will be replaced by Christopher Hitchens.]

-- Carolyn Kellogg