Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Launch of PEN International Publishers' Circle

Launch of PEN International Publishers' Circle

Press Release

Tuesday 5th April 2011

Leading Publishers join PEN International in bid for global Free Expression

On the eve of Free the Word! 2011 (6-10 April) and London International Book Fair (11-13 April) three of the world's leading publishers, Hachette Livre, Penguin and Random House, have joined with PEN International to launch a new initiative - the PEN International Publishers' Circle. The Publishers' Circle will provide support for PEN International's work and will focus on publishing aspects of PEN's work for Freedom of Expression.

The PEN International Publisher's Circle invites publishers around the world, large and small, to support PEN's work developing Freedom of Expression worldwide and ensuring that publishers and writers are free to operate in all countries and readers are free to access the books of their choice. Improving Freedom of Expression for writers creates the conditions needed for a successful and active publishing industry. PEN International currently has 144 PEN Centres in 102 countries.

President of PEN International, John Ralston Saul says:

"We are launching the PEN International Publisher's Circle with the support of three of the world's most important international publishers, each with its roots in a different culture. We hope the Publisher's Circle will expand to include publishers from around the world. PEN's work for Freedom of Expression and literature touches publishers as it does writers."

Arnaud Nourry, CEO Hachette Livre says:

"PEN's efforts to promote free speech and protect free thinkers around the world is more than an honorable cause. It is an essential one, and putting our weight as a global publishing company behind those efforts is a natural extension of our commitment to our authors, and one that was long overdue. I would like to thank John Ralston Saul for giving us the opportunity to help PEN accomplish its vital mission".

John Makinson, CEO Penguin Group, says;

"The right to Freedom of Expression, which we take for granted in the literary cultures in which most publishers work, remains in jeopardy in many countries that have both a literary heritage and a vibrant creative culture. Publishers, and writers, must play their part in extending that freedom where we can."

Markus Dohle, Chairman and CEO, Random House, Inc. says;

"As longtime supporters of and participants in the activites of the PEN American Center we are privileged to be given the opportunity to extend our relationship on a global level with PEN International through our commitment to the PEN International Publishers' Circle. With Chairman John Ralston Saul, and our fellow publishers, we will offer ever-greater affirmation and urgency for our authors' Freedom of Expression worldwide."

The work of PEN International is always relevant and most recently evident across the Arab World. Tunisia PEN has been a major opposition force to the Ben Ali regime. Until the recent fall of the government, PEN members were unable to meet as they were stopped from congregating by government forces and since the revolution their members have played a prominent role in the formation of Tunisia's new civil society and government. Egyptian PEN members were active in the Tahrir Square protests with the President of Egypt PEN, Iqbal Baraka, addressing the crowds on several occasions. Afghan PEN runs the Writers House in Kabul and is one of the biggest publishers in Afghanistan, publishing and assisting in the publication of 400 books each year. PEN is active across all continents in the face of extreme oppression and supports the courage and bravery of individual writers and publishers who risk their lives for the right to express themselves freely.

Along with human rights work, PEN International is renowned for its commitment to promoting writing and a love of reading through learning and outreach programmes, supporting access to literature through international festivals, events and publications.

PEN International's programmes are creating committed life-long readers and consumers of books, starting with young people and schools. Bringing writers and readers together PEN is creating a new generation of committed readers and creating new opportunities in new territories for publishing globally.

PEN International receives no regular governmental support and the PEN International Publishers' Circle contributions are essential to the ongoing success and continuation of PEN International's work.


For further information regarding PEN International Publishers' Circle or to request an interview with John Ralston Saul, please contact: Fiona McMorrough / Jessica Axe, FMCM Associates on 020 7405 7422 email: /

For Corporate Communications enquiries regarding Hachette Livre, please contact Ronald Blunden, Sr. V-P, on +33 1 43 92 34 18 email:

For Corporate Communications enquiries regarding Penguin Group, please contact Rebecca Sinclair on 0207 010 4279 email:

For Corporate Communications enquiries regarding Random House Worldwide contact Stuart Applebaum on 001 212 782-96 23 email:


PEN celebrates literature and promotes freedom of expression. Founded in 1921, our global community of writers now spans more than 100 countries. Our programmes, campaigns, events and publications connect writers and readers wherever they are in the world.

How do publishers get involved in the PEN International Publishers' Circle:

  • Advocacy

The Publishers' Circle will support PEN's work defending publishers who are imprisoned or harassed because of the work which they publish. Publishers' Circle members will be informed of actions which are being taken on behalf of publishers. Publishers' Circle members will be consulted to strengthen our support of Publishers and writers under threat.

  • Developing programmes

PEN International supports writers, publishers and readers through education, translation, and literature programmes in countries worldwide such as Kenya, Afghanistan, Bolivia and Kyrgyzstan. The Publishers' Circle supports PEN's work promoting publishing and literature in the 102 countries where PEN International works. Publishers' Circle members will be informed of programmes promoting publishing and the expertise of this group will be a valuable addition to PEN's global impact.

  • Emergency situations

Publishers' Circle members can help PEN International to respond to emergency situations. When the fatwa on Salman Rushdie put publishers and translators in danger, a consortium of publishers came together to publish the book and ensure the freedom to write and freedom to read. The Publishers' Circle will help us all to figure out how to work together and to respond to emergency situations.

  • International Book Fairs

To sustain PEN's work Publishers' Circle members could organize or host readings of works of imprisoned writers and publishers to promote awareness and to support PEN advocacy campaigns.

  • Newsletter and updating

Publishers' Circle members will receive regular updates on PEN projects specifically aimed at the Publishers' Circle supporters, yearly cases list, and invitations to PEN events.

  • Acknowledgments

Publishers' Circle members will be fully acknowledged in all PEN International communications, programmes, publications and on our web-site.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

2011 PEN World Voices Daily Highlights‏

2011 PEN World Voices Daily Highlights‏


2011 PEN World Voices Festival

The PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature kicks off tonight. The week-long cross-cultural exchange is packed with events which are quickly selling out so get your tickets now! For a full schedule of Festival events and a complete list of participating authors, please visit

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter (using the #pwv11 hashtag) for the latest updates. For a sneak preview of PEN World Voices, visit our brand new reading and conversation series PEN Talks, featuring Festival participants Lisa Dierbeck, Susan Rosenberg, and Roxana Robinson.

Each day this week, you can also download a literary mixtape of excerpts from Festival participants to read on your Kindle, iPad, or Nook. Today's e-book features work from Malcolm Gladwell, Molly Crabapple, Hervé Le Tellier, and more.


Deborah Eisenberg

TONIGHT: Opening Night: Written on Water


Get a glimpse of the week-long celebration of world literature at Chelsea Piers' stunning Lighthouse with a stellar lineup of authors: Gioconda Belli, Iva Bittová, Mircea Cãrtãrescu, Deborah Eisenberg, Evan Fallenberg, Malcolm Gladwell, Hanif Kureishi, Andrea Levy, Agi Mishol, Amélie Nothomb, Salman Rushdie, and Wallace Shawn.

[Event details]

Herve Le Tellier

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TONIGHT: The Public Intellectual

What has become of the public intellectual's role in these modern times? Attend tonight's event to find out. With Manuel de Lope, Peter Godwin, Pierre Guyotat, Linda Polman, and Hervé Le Tellier; moderated by Jane Ciabattari.

[Event details]

Rula Jebreal

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WEDNESDAY: Revolutionaries in the Arab World

Hear from experts and on-the-ground bloggers how social media and citizen journalism galvanize the revolution. In the borderless world of the Internet, where revolutionary ideas spread at lightning speed, will other despotic regimes collapse? Alex Nunns, editor of Tweets from Tahrir (O/R Books) will be joined by Palestinian author/journalist Rula Jebreal (Miral), blogger Issandr El Amrani (The Arabist), Moroccan writer Abdellah Taia, and Moroccan-Dutch writer Adbelkader Benali to tackle these urgent questions.

[Event details]

Wole Soyinka

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SUNDAY: The Sixth Annual Freedom to Write Lecture: Wole Soyinka

Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Nigerian poet-dramatist, Wole Soyinka, writes: "Books and all forms of writing are terror to those who wish to suppress the truth." Join him for a thoughtful examination of censorship-and a writer's purpose and responsibility in a climate of forced silences and intolerance.

[Event details]

[See full schedule of Festival events]
PEN American Center | 588 Broadway, Suite 303 | New York | NY | 10012

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Fifty Fatullayevs" outside London Embassy demand release of jailed Azerbaijani journalist

"Fifty Fatullayevs" outside London Embassy demand release of jailed Azerbaijani journalist

19 April 2011 - Azerbaijani follows

“Fifty Fatullayevs” outside London Embassy demand release of jailed Azerbaijani journalist
London 19.04.11: Protesters wearing masks bearing the face of jailed journalist Eynulla Fatullayev will stage a protest outside the Azerbaijani Embassy on Wednesday 20 April 2011. The demonstration, by five London-based human rights organisations, marks the fourth anniversary of Azerbaijani journalist Fatullayev’s wrongful imprisonment.

The “Fifty Fatullayevs” will face the Embassy as representatives hand in a letter calling on the Azerbaijani authorities to immediately and unconditionally release and compensate Fatullayev, who remains wrongfully imprisoned following his conviction in July 2010 on a charge of drugs possession. This latest charge is widely believed to have been fabricated in order to keep Fatullayev in prison despite a European Court of Human Rights judgment in April 2010 relating to charges from 2007 – only the second judgment of its kind - ordering his immediate release.

Amnesty International UK, ARTICLE 19, English PEN, Index on Censorship, and the Media Diversity Institute say that Fatullayev has a long history of being persecuted by the Azerbaijani authorities, and that the July 2010 conviction is just the latest in a series of politically motivated charges connected to his journalistic activities. The organisations are urging the Azerbaijani authorities to honour their international obligations to respect the right to freedom of expression.
Whilst Fatullayev remains in prison, the freedom of expression situation in Azerbaijan continues to deteriorate. Recent weeks have seen a wave of arrests in connection with a series of pro-democracy protests, increased pressure against non-governmental organisations working on democracy and human rights, and the abduction and beating of two journalists in connection with their criticism of the authorities.

“Fatullayev’s imprisonment has had a distinct chilling effect on freedom of expression in Azerbaijan. The longer he remains in jail, the longer journalists will continue to engage in self-censorship for fear of retaliation. It’s time to put an end to this pervasive climate of fear”, said ARTICLE 19 Executive Director Agnès Callamard.

“Holding Eynulla Fatullayev in prison for so long proves that freedom of expression in Azerbaijan is deteriorating. Economic interests in a country rich with resources must not be misunderstood as a ‘carte blanche’ for prosecution of journalists and use of repressive methods to silence independent media outlets in Azerbaijan”, said Media Diversity Institute Executive Director Milica Pesic.

“Azerbaijan’s international standing has already been seriously damaged by this case. Concocting new, trumped-up charges against Eynulla Fatullayev to dodge a European Court ruling is not the action of a government that respects the rule of law. Azerbaijan should release this award-winning journalist and show the rest of Europe that it respects the right to freedom of expression”, said Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen.

“The continued detention of Eynulla Fatullayev is a travesty of justice. Through his journalism, Fatullayev has exposed the reality of Azerbaijan that the Government wants to keep concealed. Instead of protecting his freedom, the Azerbaijani Government has disregarded a judgment in his favour from the European Court of Human Rights. He should be released immediately and unconditionally", said Salil Tripathi, Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee, English PEN.

Arrested on 20 April 2007 following publication of a series of news articles critical of the authorities, Fatullayev was initially convicted on criminal defamation charges. In October 2007, Fatullayev was convicted of additional politically motivated charges of supporting terrorism, inciting ethnic hatred and tax evasion. In its judgment of April 2010 pertaining to these convictions, the European Court of Human Rights found that the Azerbaijani authorities had violated Fatullayev’s rights to freedom of expression and to a fair trial, and ordered Azerbaijan to immediately release him and pay damages.

However, in July 2010, during the period before this ruling became final, the Azerbaijani authorities convicted Fatullayev of drug possession after prison officials allegedly found drugs in his clothing in December 2009. Fatullayev vehemently denies the accusation, and international experts, including Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg and former OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Miklos Haraszti, have noted their concerns, stating respectively that the charge of drugs possession “lacks credibility” and is “highly improbable”.

“We believe the drugs possession charge to be fabricated and intended to keep Fatullayev in prison despite the European Court judgment ordering his release. This is another example of the Azerbaijani authorities using politically motivated charges in an attempt to restrict freedom of expression”, said Natasha Schmidt, Assistant Editor at Index on Censorship.

As a Council of Europe Member State, Azerbaijan is obligated to respect and protect the right to freedom of expression and to execute European Court of Human Rights judgments. Instead, by keeping Fatullayev in prison on politically motivated charges, the Azerbaijani authorities are continuing to demonstrate their lack of commitment to upholding fundamental human rights.

• The demonstration will take place on Wednesday, 20 April 2011 from 13:00 to 14:00 outside the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan, 4 Kensington Court, London, W8 5DL.
• For more media information or to arrange interviews with spokespersons, please contact Mona Samari, ARTICLE 19 Senior Press Officer at +44 (0)7515 828939 or email
• The following spokespersons are available for interview: Steve Ballinger from Amnesty International UK; Rebecca Vincent from ARTICLE 19; Cat Lucas from English PEN; and Natasha Schmidt from Index on Censorship.

PEN World Voices Kicks Off in Just Four Days: Get Tickets Now!?

PEN World Voices Kicks Off in Just Four Days: Get Tickets Now!?

2011 PEN World Voices Festival

The PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature is kicking off on Monday. Don't miss our Opening Night event, Written On Water, at the stunning Chelsea Pier's Lighthouse. The week-long cross-cultural exchange is packed with events which are quickly selling out so get your tickets now! For a full schedule of Festival events and a complete list of participating authors, please visit

Be sure to also follow us on Facebook and Twitter (using the #pwv11 hashtag) for the latest updates. We will be offering free tickets on Twitter leading up to and during the Festival. For a sneak preview of PEN World Voices, visit our brand new reading and conversation series PEN Talks, which kicks off with Festival participants Lisa Dierbeck and Susan Rosenberg.

Many events are free, but some events require paid tickets and/or reservations, including the highlighted events below.

Note: If you plan to travel to New York to attend the Festival, please check out our accommodations page.


Rula Jebreal

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Revolutionaries in the Arab World

Hear from experts and on-the-ground bloggers how social media and citizen journalism galvanize the revolution. In the borderless world of the Internet, where revolutionary ideas spread at lightning speed, will other despotic regimes collapse? Alex Nunns, editor of Tweets from Tahrir (O/R Books) will be joined by Palestinian author/journalist Rula Jebreal (Miral), blogger Issandr El Amrani (The Arabist), Moroccan writer Abdellah Taia, and Moroccan-Dutch writer Adbelkader Benali to tackle these urgent questions.

[Event details]

Hanif Kureishi

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De-Gentrify New York and Give Her Back to the World

New York has seen a gentrification of the mind as well as neighborhood. Hanif Kureishi, Tracie Morris, Luc Sante, and Sarah Schulman gather to discuss how to de-gentrify New York and take her back as a place of refuge, insight, and a key global headquarters for the production of new ideas and political movements.

[Event details]


Zha Jianying

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China in Two Acts

Born in Beijing and educated in the United States, New Yorker contributor Zha Jianying has unique insight into the rapidly changing world inside China. She will be joined by Ian Buruma and David Rieff to discuss the plight of the country's best-known artist, Ai Weiwei, and Nobel Peace Prize winner and political prisoner Liu Xiaobo. In a 30-minute presentation, Zha sheds light on the polarized political order and the cultural forces that are shaping the world's most populous nation. Following Zha's remarks, a panel of journalists and writers join her on stage for a lively debate.

[Event details]

Elif Shafak

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Diaspora Capitals

New York City has always been a powerful attractor for migrants, transplants, and diverse communities of every imaginable type. But this city is only one of many that serves as a crossroad and meeting point-especially for writers. What is the special relationship between cities and diaspora communities, with writers and migrants from around the world?

[Event details]


Laurie Anderson

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Poetry: The Second Skin

Experimental performance artist and musician Laurie Anderson curates a multimedia extravaganza exploring the porous borders between poetry and music. With John Burnside, Ernesto Cardenal, David-Dephy Gogibedashvili, Hasina Gul, Yusef Komunyakaa, Juan Carlos Mestre, Joachim Sartorius, Pia Tafdrup, and surprise guests.

[Event details]


Thomas Espedal

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Education, Knowledge, Learning

What does it mean to be an educated person? What kind of education do our children deserve, and how can we ensure that our youths develop into intelligent, responsible, and compassionate adult citizens of the world?

[Event details]


Garry Kasparov

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Russia in Two Acts: Featuring Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Sorokin, and others

Watch a World Champion chess player, now journalist, unravel the complexities of Russia's cultural and geopolitical landscape. A panel of Russian experts--from critics to novelists--will comment on Kasparov's talk and engage in a debate about where this mammoth country is headed. With Jamey Gambrell, Garry Kasparov, Vladmir Sorokin, and Fedor Svarovskiy; moderated by Christian Caryl.

[Event details]

[See full schedule of Festival events]


There are just a few remaining spots in these Working Day breakout sessions. Be sure to reserve your place in advance.

Open only to PEN Members, Festival authors, heads of cultural agencies, and press. RSVP required: e-mail by April 22.

Working Day Workshops
Thursday, April 28:

Education, Knowledge, Learning
2 p.m.: Old School

New Orleans
2 p.m.: Old School

De-Gentrify New York and Give Her Back to the World
2 p.m.: Old School

PEN American Center | 588 Broadway, Suite 303 | New York | NY | 10012

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Monday, April 18, 2011

English PEN demo this Wednesday for Eynullah Fatullayev

Dear PEN members, activists and volunteers,
A quick note to remind you about our demonstration this Wednesday for Eynulla Fatullayev, the Azeri editor imprisoned since 2007 for challenging his government over its relations with Armenia.

June we held an impressive demo (photos, video) with activists from Amnesty, Index on Censorship and Article 19. We will be reconvening outside the Azerbaijan Embassy again on Wednesday 20th April at 1pm. It is a good chance to pressurise the Azerbaijan government on free expression issues, and also to lobby our own Foreign & Commonwealth Office to hold Azerbaijan to account.

Eynulla Fatullayev himself is in desperate need of support and solidarity, and a large turn-out from fellow writers and readers will provide a huge morale boost to him and his family. We recently raised a Prisoners of Conscience Appeal Fund grant for his family, and he is one of our Honorary Members receiving letters and cards from PEN members.

We do hope you can spare time during your lunch hour to join us. The demo will be at 4 Kensington Court, London W8 5DL.

I appreciate that many of you are not based in London. If you cannot make the demo itself, we would ask you help spread the word about our action by sharing links to the story, letter and photos we generate on your social networks. Joining our Rapid Action Network is another great way you can help us from your desk: e-mail to sign up.

Many thanks and best wishes,

Robert Sharp | Campaigns Manager | English PEN

t. 020 7324 2535 | d. 020 7324 2538 | m. 07790420011 |

Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3GA

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

PEN News: April 8, 2011‏

PEN News: April 8, 2011‏

PEN Monthly News

Last Call for Festival Volunteers

PEN is now accepting volunteers for the 2011 World Voices Festival. Help work front-of-house and back-of-house at events and other functions (hospitality suite, receptions, etc.)

[E-mail us if interested]

April 13:
Who Killed Natasha?

Who Killed Natasha explores the murder of journalist and Memorial human rights defender Natalia Estemirova. The American movie premiere at the IFC Center will be followed by a panel discussion with the filmmaker.

[More details]

May 24-26:
BookExpo America

BookExpo America is North America's biggest publishing event. It's the ideal place to connect with the hottest titles, newest authors, biggest ideas, and latest technology. It's where content creators, buyers, sellers, and influencers convene to gain perspectives, join the conversation on key topics, and network with old and new connections.

[More details]

Find us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter View our videos on YouTube Follow us on Tumblr

Full Festival Program Now Online

The 2011 PEN World Voices Festival takes place from April 25 to May 1. Among the exciting additions to this year's program are a one-of-a-kind international documentary series and brand new Festival locations around New York

Follow the Festival online:

[Full Festival program]


Afghan Writer Malalai Joya Granted U.S. Visa

Two days after PEN joined the ACLU and the American Association of University Professors to protest the denial of a visa to Malalai Joya, a renowned women's rights activist and former member of the Afghan Parliament, the U.S. State Department issued a visa that will allow Ms. Joya to tour the U.S. for her celebrated memoir A Woman Among Warlords. [More]

Chinese Writer Liu Xianbin Sentenced to 10 Years

Writer and PEN Member Liu Xianbin was given a 10-year prison sentence based on charges of "inciting subversion of state power" for writings which appeared on overseas online journals and news web sites. It is the longest sentence given on the charge after Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo's 11-year term. [More]

U.N. Accord Ends Push to Ban Blasphemy

The U.N. Human Rights Council ended efforts to restrict speech considered offensive to religions with a unanimous vote on a religious tolerance resolution. PEN and a number of other human rights organizations have previously warned that such efforts would significantly erode crucial international and national protections for freedom of expression. [More]

Suit Against NSA Surveillance Can Proceed

An appeals court ruled that PEN and its co-plaintiffs have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the FISA Amendments Act, the 2008 legislation that granted the executive branch the power to carry out and expand the illegal eavesdropping activities it has engaged in secretly since 2001. [More]

PEN in Translation

The 2011 PEN Translation Feature highlights PEN's continuing mission to foster international fellowship through literature, showcasing work from PEN Translation Fund recipients and Literary Awards winners, as well as PEN Translation Committee members and World Voices Festival participants. [More]

PEN Reads: James M. Cain's Mildred Pierce

Join the discussion of James M. Cain's modern masterpiece Mildred Pierce. Screenwriter Jon Raymond takes us behind the scenes of the adapted HBO mini-series, while crime writer Laura Lippman examines Cain's characterization of women in the novel. Tin House Editor and PEN Reads Chair Rob Spillman chimes in next. [More]

PEN Talks: A Reading & Conversation Series

PEN Talks, a new weekly reading and conversation series, kicks off with Lisa Dierbeck, a 2011 PEN World Voices Festival participant and author of The Autobiography of Jenny X. Coming up are two other Festival authors: Susan Rosenberg (An American Radical) and Roxana Robinson (Cost). [More]

Sunday, April 10, 2011

History of The PEN All India Center, West Bengal: A glimpse

History of The PEN All India Center, West Bengal: A glimpse

The history of the The PEN All India Center of International PEN, a world organisation of poets, playwrights, editors, essayists and novelists, is truly rare since it is non available in a book form. The Indian PEN centre has it’s office in Mumbai. Perhaps, the history of that Indian centre may somehow be framed by collecting the old documents. But the PEN’s west Bengal branch has no such written documents; the reason behind this is the fact that this branch had never its office in the true sense of the term till now; though the branch came into being in 1934 and a long period of 77 years have since elapsed. Another reason was Mumbai had maintained an office, so, the West Bengal branch had never felt this so strong to maintain an office.It thought Mumbai maintains all. The works were carried out by the subscription of volunteers or voluntary members. The secretaries have, so far worked from their respective residences. It has led to discontinuity in works and records, since whenever a secretary has either retired or died the necessary records and documents could not be maintained and preserved at a place.

The West Bengal branch came into existence in 1933 almost at the same time when the Indian centre of the Pen international was opened in Mumbai. There are no distinct documents as to who all actually ran the branch for long 77 years . Deb Kumar basu was the pivotal figure of the branch since 1992. Right from his tenure or perhaps from even before its connections with Indian center in Mumbai got severed.( somehow unintentionally, here, a point to be remembered that Mumbai is the western side, and Kolkata is eastern side of Indian map. A long distance in between the two states, about 2000 km. all communication used to make through postal service, a snail pace, somehow it was disconnected). Under such a condition we are venturing to frame the history of the PEN West Bengal Branch. Unintentional omissions may therefore occur. We request our readers/members to bear and also to let us know any genuine information for updating the history. There has been no mention of the PEN West Bengal branch in any literary works of anybody in our memory, so we are to rely on the literary works of Annadashankar Roy.

From the writing of Annadashankar Roy we come to know that immediately after opening the the Indian centre of PEN International in Mumbai, some renowned persons like Dr. Kalidas Nag, Manindrala Basu, Priyaranjan Sen had opened the West Bengal chapter of the Indian PEN centre, this chapter was termed as ‘Bengal Chapter’.

The International PEN for the first time had invited India in 1930 for deputing delegates.this we can know from the archive of American Center. This was the time when B. P. Wadia, Sophia Wadia were regularly visiting Europe for the sake of theosophy society or United Lodge of Theosophy.

In 1930 B. P. Wadia published a journal "The Aryan Path" for theosophy. In 1928 he married Sophia Camacho (Born September 13th 1901, was educated in paris and columbia university, The U S A, is an international lecturer and writer.)

Between January and the end of April 1929, Mr. Wadia lectured for the London ULT at the Victoria Hall, Bloomsbury, to packed audiences ( 2,300 +) The London Lodge was then housed in rented premises in a building a couple of blocks from Marble Arch. In March 1929, Mr. and Mrs. Wadia were in London, they also were visited by many students from the European continent. They, in turn, visited a number of the ULT Lodges there before beginning their trip to India.

Mr. Wadia was of the opinion that the future of Theosophy in its presentation to the world would be, in one way, through the work of the future writers and poets of the world. Accordingly he and Sophia Wadia had earlier became members of the International P.E.N. Club.

In England, they came to know the writers of PEN. Their aim was to spread the message of theosophy among writers of PEN.

They started a center with the permission of PEN in 1933 in Mumbai. Rabindranath Tagore was on then 72 years old. The transport and communication system of India was at that time is easily imaginable. Barring some rich and influential people, it was very difficult to have connection in the national and international sphere. Thus writes Annada Shankar Roy:

“Madam Sophia Wadia with the permission of the International PEN set all India PEN centre. Rabindranath Tagore was the President. Dr. Kalidas Nag, Manindralal Basu, Priya Ranjan Sen obtained permission of opening a branch in Kolkata.”

“ As per the international convention the meetings of PEN used to be held in some hotel and restaurant, and lunch and dinning was a part and parcel of such meetings, Extra expenditure was borne by the members were present. During that period it was rupees two or and half or Rupees three would cost per head. The responsibility of collection of contribution or ordering meals was borne by Mani da. The progress and prosperity of the PEN Bengal; chapter was certain when such an enthusiasts secretary was in the helm. So far work was concerned ,the chapter was center and center was chapter, because members is Bengal was so active and more in number. But right to depute a delegate to the international congress of the PEN rested only with the Indian centre in Mumbai. And not with the chapter.”

Excerpts from ‘Dekha shuna’ by Annada Shankar Roy, published by M/s Mitra and Ghosh Pvt. Ltd. 10, Shyama Charan Dey Street. Kolkata 73.

Manindralal Basu was a barrister and a successful writer as well as an influential man. During those days only dignitaries of the society were the members of the PEN. We learn further from the writings of Annada Shankar Roy that the presidents of Indian P E N center were in the order of Rabindranath Tagore, Sorojini Naidu, Dr.sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, Masti Venkatesh Ayenger and Umashankar Joshi, after that Annadashankar Roy was promotioned from vice president and he remained president till his death.

In 1936, The International PEN congress was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Dr. Kalidas Nag from the Bengal chapter started as deligate to join the congress. Since the power of deputing a delegate rested only with the main center , Mumbai ( by then Bombay) Madam Wadia could not acknowledge the decision of the Bengal chapter for deputing Dr. Kalidas Nag as a delegate. This ultimately causes a bitterness between centre and chapter, A meeting in the matter was held in Grand hotel, Kolkata, in the presence of Sarojini Naidu. The Bengal chapter was dissolved then in the charge of breach of discipline. But it was continued with the members who were the members of Mumbai center in low profile.

After Independence of India, Madam Wadia wrote to Annada shankar Roy. The regular members of the Bengal chapter might at their will assemble and meet together informally. Such meetings were than arranged in the ‘Friends’ center’ of Wood Street. Leela Mazumdar was as secretary for sometime who was succeeded by Naren Deb and Radharani Debi. It was their endeavour that small groups of Bengal chapter turned into West Bengal Branch of the PEN all India centre. After this, Sudhir sarkar, who himself was a writer, editor of Mouchak’ a juvenile monthly journal and a publisher took the charge of running West Bengal branch . He was a member of the PEN as well as a publisher too. After sudhir sarkar it was perhaps Santosh Adhikari to have succeeded. Since 1992 Debkumar Basu was the secretary till his death in 2007.

Dr. Jagannath Ghosh then took over in 2007. But unfortunately, he also died after a couple of years. At present, since 2009, Ranjan Gupta is secretary of the west Bengal branch of the PEN.

The pen west Bengal has the honour of having Rabindranath Tagore as its president. Prominent Judge and writer Annada Shankar Roy was the president for a long years and at present , since the death of Annada Shankar Roy the chair is ornamented by Prominent writer and poet Sunil Gangopadhyay. He is also the president of Sahitya Academy (National Academy of Letters ,) Govt of India.

In the beginning years, vice presidents were Dr. Kalidas Nag, Ashapurna Debi, Nabyendu Ghosh, andSat present Surajit Das Gupta holds the position of Vice chairman of west Bengal.

The present executive body of the PEN West Bengal is comprised of the following

Chairman – Sunil Gangopadhyay

Vice chairnman— Surojit Das Gupta

Secretary -- Ranjan Gupta.

Jt.secretary-- Shyamal Mukhopadhyay

Communication executive – Albert Ashok

Members :

Ananda Ghosh Hazra

Nishith Roy Choudhury

Jayati Gangopadhyay

Kamal Mukhopadhyay

Deepika Bhattacharya

Roma Sen

Chandra Mazumdar

Basant Rungta

Nathmal Kedia


For People in Bengal can read it in Bengali language

আন্তর্জাতিক পি, ই, এনের ভারতবর্ষ কেন্দ্রের ইতিহাস খুবই দুর্লভ, পূস্তকাকারে পাওয়া যায়না। মুম্বাইতে এর অফিস আছে, নথিপত্র ঘেঁটে তার ইতিহাস সন্ধান পাওয়া যেতে পারে। কিন্তু পশ্চিমবঙ্গের শাখার কোন ইতিহাস নেই। কারন, ভারতীয় পি ই এন কেন্দ্রের শাখা পশ্চিমবঙ্গের কোন অফিস আজ অবধি নেই।১৯৩৪ সাল থেকে ২০১১,৭৭ বছর পেরিয়ে গেল। শাখার সম্পাদকগন নিজেদের দায়িত্বে অফিস ও কাজ নিজের বাড়িতেই করে থাকেন। ফলতঃ একজন সম্পাদকের প্রস্থানের সাথে সাথে ইতিহাস ও কাজের ধারাবাহিকতার বিঘ্ন ঘটে। ইতিহাস ও নথিপত্র সংরক্ষণ করা যায়না।

পশ্চিমবংগ শাখা শুরু হয় ভারতীয় কেন্দ্র মুম্বাইয়ে শুরু হওয়ার প্রায় সাথেসাথেই, ১৯৩৩ সালে। সুতরাং গত ৭৭ বসরের কারা কারা কতদিন ধরে এই পি ই এনের শাখা অফিস চালিয়েছেন তার কোন প্রামাণ্য নথি নেই। দেব কুমার বসু বাংলা পি ই এনের প্রান পুরুষ ছিলেন, তিনি পি ই এন চালান ১৯৯২ সাল থেকে, তার সময়ের থেকে, বোধ করি তারও আগে থেকে মুম্বাইয়ের কেন্দ্রের সাথে বাংলা শাখা সম্পূর্ণ সম্পর্ক বিচ্ছিন্ন। এরকম একটা অবস্থায় আমরা পশ্চিমবঙ্গ পি ই এন এর ইতিহাস রচনা করতে বসেছি, ক্রটি বিচ্যুতি থাকা স্বাভাবিক। পাঠক গনের কাছে আমাদের আশা তারা যদি কোন সঠিকতথ্য জেনে থাকেন তারা দয়া করে আমাদের জানিয়ে দেবেন। বর্তমানে আমরা তেমন কোন প্রকাশিত পুস্তক পাইনি যা থেকে আমরা এ ব্যাপারে উসাহিত হতে পারি। শ্রদ্ধেয় সাহিত্যিক অন্নদাশঙ্কর রায়ের লেখা ছাড়া বাংলা সাহিত্যে পি ই এন এর কথা বিশেষ দেখা যায়না। অন্নদাশংকরের লেখা থেকে আমরা জানতে পারি, ড: কালিদাস নাগ, মণীন্দ্রলাল বসু, প্রিয়রঞ্জন সেন প্রমুখগন মুম্বাই ভারতীয় কেন্দ্র স্থাপিত হওয়ার পর পশ্চিমবঙ্গে শাখা পি ই এন প্রচলন করেন। প্রতিষ্ঠাতা সবাই বাঙালি হওয়ার দরুন এটাকে ‘বেঙ্গল চাপ্টার’ আখ্যা দেওয়া হয়।

আন্তর্জাতিক পি ই এন ১৯৩০ সালে ভারত থেকে প্রতিনিধি পাঠানোর আমন্ত্রন পাঠায়। তখন অধ্যাত্মবাদে বিশ্বাসী বি পি ওয়াদিয়া ও সোফিয়া ওয়াদিয়া তাদের নিজেদের থিওজফি সোসাইটির প্রচারের স্বার্থে ইঊরোপ যাতায়াত করতেন। তারা তাদের অধ্যাত্মবাদ প্রচারের স্বার্থে ইংল্যান্ডে পি ই এন এর লেখকদের সাথে পরিচিত হন এবং সদস্যপদ গ্রহন করেন। ভারতে তারা অধুনা মুম্বাইতে ১৯৩৩ সালে পি ই এন এর কেন্দ্র ও অফিস চালু করেন। রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুরের বয়স তখন ৭২ বছর (১৮৬১-১৯৪১)। ভারত বর্ষের যোগাযোগ ব্যবস্থা তখন কেমন ছিল কল্পনা করুন। একমাত্র বিত্তশালী ও প্রভাবশালী ব্যক্তি বাদে জাতীয় ও আন্তর্জাতিক স্তরে সম্পর্ক রাখা অসম্ভব ছিল।

অন্নদাশংকর লিখেছেন, ‘মাদাম সোফিয়া ওয়াদিয়া আন্তর্জাতিক পি ই এন এর অনুমতি নিয়ে বোম্বাইতে অল ইন্ডিয়া পি ই এন কেন্দ্র স্থাপন করেন। তার সভাপতি হন রবীন্দ্রনাথ।কলকাতায় তার একটি চ্যাপ্টার খোলার অনুমতি পান ডক্টর কালিদাস নাগ, মণীন্দ্রলাল বসু, প্রিয় রঞ্জন সেন প্রমুখ।’

“আন্তর্জাতিক প্রথা অনুযায়ী পি ই এনের বৈঠক বসত কোন হোটেলে বা রেস্টুরেন্টে, লাঞ্চ কিংবা ডিনার ছিল তার অঙ্গ। বাড়তি চাঁদা উপস্থিত সদস্যরা বহন করতেন। তখনকার দিনে মাথাপিছু আড়াইটাকা বা তিনটাকা লাগত। চাঁদা আদায় বা খানা অর্ডার ইত্যাদি ভার নিতেন মণিদা।এমন উসাহী সেক্রেটারি থাকতে পি ই এনের কলকাতার চ্যাপ্টারের শ্রীবৃদ্ধি অনিবার্য। কাজকর্মের বিচারে চ্যাপ্টারই কেন্দ্র, কেন্দ্রই চ্যাপ্টার। আন্তর্জাতিক কংগ্রেসে ডেলিগেট পাঠানোর ক্ষমতা ছিল কেন্দ্রের, চ্যাপ্টারের নয়।”

( উল্লেখ্য অন্নদাশংকর রায়ের লেখা ‘দেখাশোনা’ – প্রকাশকঃ মিত্র ও ঘোষ পাবলিশার্স প্রাঃ লিঃ ১০, শ্যামাচরণ দে স্ট্রিট, কলকাতা- ৭৩)

মণীন্দ্রলাল বসু ছিলেন ব্যারিস্টার ও একজন সুসাহিত্যিক প্রভাবশালী ব্যক্তি।তখনকারদিনে পি ই এন এ সামাজিক উচ্চ মর্য্যাদাসম্পন্ন ব্যক্তিরাই ছিলেন।

অন্নদা শংকরের লেখা থেকে আমরা আরো জানতে পারি ভারতে পি ই এন এর সভাপতি ক্রমানুযায়ী প্রথম রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর, সরোজিনী নাইডু, পরে ডক্টর সর্বোপল্লী রাধাকৃষ্ণন, মস্তি বেংকটেশ আয়েঙ্গার, উমাশংকর যোশী। এরপর সহ সভাপতির পদ থেকে উন্নীত হয়ে অন্নদাশংকর রায় নিজেও সভাপতির দায়িত্বে ছিলেন আমৃত্যুকাল।

১৯৩৬ সালে ডেলিগেট আর্জেন্টিনার বুয়েন্স এয়ার্সে আন্তর্জাতিক পি ই এন এর কংগ্রেস বসে, তাতে ডেলিগেট হিসাবে ডক্টর কালিদাস নাগ ও যান, ডেলিগেট পাঠানোর ক্ষমতা কেন্দ্রের ও কর্ণধার সোফিয়া ওয়াদিয়ার।

ডক্টর কালিদাস চ্যাপ্টারের হয়ে ডেলিগেট হিসাবে রওনা হন বুয়েন্স এয়ার্সে। জাহাজে শ্রীমতি সোফিয়া ওয়াদিয়া আবিষ্কার করেন তার সহযাত্রী বেঙ্গলি চ্যাপ্টারের ডেলিগেট ডক্টর কালিদাস নাগ। এটা শ্রীমতি ওয়াদিয়া মেনে নিতে পারলেননা। চ্যাপ্টারের ডেলিগেট পাঠানোর ক্ষমতা নেই।

এই নিয়ে তিক্ততা হল শুরু কেন্দ্র বনাম চ্যাপ্টার। সরোজিনি নাইডু র উপস্থিতিতে কলকাতায় গ্র্যান্ডহোটেলে বিচার বসে।শৃংখলা ভংগের দায়ে চ্যাপ্টার খারিজ হয়ে যায়।

স্বাধীনতার পর, আবার শ্রীমতি ওয়াদিয়া অন্নদাশংকরকে লেখেন যাদের সভ্যপদ বজায় আছে তারা যেন আবার মিলিত হন ঘরোয়াভাবে বা ছোট দল হিসাবে তখন উডস্ত্রিটের ফ্রেন্ডস সেন্টারে পি ই এন এর সভা বসত। সম্পাদক হিসাবে লীলা মজুমদার কিছুদিন চালান, তারপর নরেন দেব ও রাধারানী দেবী। তাদের উদ্যোগে এই ছোট দল ‘পশ্চিমবংগ শাখা’ য় পরিণত হয়। এরপর দায়িত্বভার নেন লেখক, মৌচাক কিশোর পত্রিকার সম্পাদক ও প্রকাশক সূধীর সরকার। তিনি একজন সপ্রকাশক ও সজ্জন ব্যক্তি পি ই এন এর সদস্য ছিলেন।সুধীর সরকারের পর সম্ভবতঃ সন্তোষ অধিকারী। ১৯৯২ সাল থেকে আমৃত্যুকাল সম্পাদক ছিলেন দেবকুমার বসু।২০০৭ সালে দেবকুমার বসুর মৃত্যুর পর ডক্টর জগন্নাথ বসু হন। তিনি কিছুকাল সম্পাদক থাকার পর মারা যান। বর্তমানে কলকাতাস্ত পি ই এন এর সম্পাদক ২০০৯ সাল থেকে রঞ্জন গুপ্ত।

শুরুর দিক থেকে সহসভাপতি ছিলেন, ডক্টর কালিদাস নাগ, আশাপূর্ণা দেবী, নব্যেন্দু ঘোষ ও বর্তমানে সুরজি দাসগুপ্ত।