Wednesday, April 6, 2011

[English PEN] Free The Word! Festival 2011 opens today

[English PEN] Free The Word! Festival 2011 opens today

Dear Friends,

Tonight sees the opening of PEN’s Free the Word! festival 2011: Translating Power.

Over the next five days, 6-10 April, some of the most fascinating authors from Britain and around the world will be at the Free Word Centre in London to debate the impact of writing on politics.

To book please click here:

At a time when political structures are crumbling in the Middle East and North Africa we are delighted that the wonderful British Libyan novelist Hisham Matar will be joining the Turkish writer Elif Shafak and the Colombian Juan Gabriel Vasquez to talk about the ways in which novelists can make and unmake history (‘Authorising History’: Friday 8 April, 6.30pm).

As literary festivals spring up in the most surprising places, Gillian Slovo, Romesh Gunesekera, John Ralston Saul and Rachel Holmes ask whether writers are unwittingly promoting corrupt regimes along with their latest paperback (‘Terms of Engagement’, Sunday 10 April, 7pm).

Crime novelists Margie Orford (South Africa), Dominique Manotti (France) and Nii Ayikwei Parkes (Ghana/UK) ask whether crime writing changes society, or just entertains it (‘Criminal Justice’, Friday 8 April, 6.30pm).

The Northern Irish writer Danny Morrison, former director of publicity for Sinn Fein, the Chechen Russian novelist German Sadulaev and the Nagalese author Easterine Kire Iralu talk about the pressures of being a writer in politically insecure and violent landscapes (‘Homeland Insecurity’, Saturday 9 April, 2pm).

And Gabriel Josopovici, Geoff Dyer and the Croatian writer and intellectual Dubravka Ugresic ask whether the novel can continue to grapple creatively with this changing world (‘The Shock of the New’, Saturday 9 April, 4pm).

Many of these authors will come together for an informal session of readings on Sunday lunchtime, when they will be joined by emerging writers from London’s new communities, whose work English PEN has nurtured over the last couple of years (‘Lunchtime Bites’, Sunday 10 April, 1pm).

And this very special festival begins TONIGHT, when poets Stephen Watts, Sasha Dugdale, Martina Thompson, Chris Beckett and Michael Foley will examine the complex relationship between ‘Poetry and the State’ (Wednesday 6 April, 6.30pm).

I hope very much that you can join us for these very special few days.

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

Hosted by English PEN, PEN International and Free Word, Free the Word! 2011 celebrates the power of literature. As part of a worldwide community of festivals, with hubs in Austria , Turkey , and Galicia , Free the Word! 2011 draws British writers and readers into a global conversation.

For more details see our website:

To book please click here:

Press tickets are available.

Jonathan Heawood

Director, English PEN

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