The Review: PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature

The 2012 PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature began today and I’m ridiculously excited!    What’s that… don’t know about the 2012 PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature (the name doesn’t really roll off the tongue, does it?)? Queue up the official description -

April 30–May 6, 2012

100 Writers from 25 Countries
Writers from around the world convene in New York City to celebrate the power of the written word in action. Engage with literature in bold and unexpected ways and discover how words can be amplified through music, theater, puppetry, film, and much more. Marking PEN American Center’s 90th anniversary, this year’s festival features performances, discussions, one-on-one conversations, and readings. The Standard, New York and The Standard, East Village along with the High Line are the Festival hubs, with venues crisscrossing the city, from Harlem to Wall Street, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA.

I’ve spent months planning and refining our itinerary…  that’s right, there’s an itinerary! All done up in Google Calendar, complete with directions & reminders – synced to the cell phone. Lori @TNBBC will be my faithful & ever patient partner in crime.  Here are the events we’re looking forward to.

Thursday, 5/3

(12:30-1:30PM) – Lunch Lit Conversation: Noëlle Revaz – OK, to be honest I just picked this one because it filled in some time. All I know about Noëlle Revaz I learned from the description of this event:  she’s a Swiss author and her novel With the Animals is being released in English this month by Dalkey Archive Press.

(3-5PM) – Herta Müller on Silence – The 2009 Nobel Laureate has two events at the festival, probably due to the release of The Hunger Angel (her first novel since winning the prize) in English.  This one is being held at the Deutsches Haus.  She’ll be reading her 2001 Lecture to the Swedish Academy in Stockholm in German with an English translator.   The description recommended calling ahead to reserve seating as there is limited room, so my hope is that this will be a smaller and more intimate crowd.

(6-7:30PM) The first scheduling conflict – and it’s breaking my heart.  There are two fantastic events being held in the same time slot:  the Iranian author Mahmoud Dowlatabadi, whose AMAZING novel The Colonel (Melville House) I am currently devouring, will be reading at the Bowery Poetry Club.  At the same time there will be an amazing panel discussing Reviewing Translations (which definitely would come in handy!)

(8PM) – Understanding Egypt is probably past our curfew, but it looks likes a fascinating exploration of the recent revolution and what it means.  This event, along with Marjane Satrapi talk & screening at MOMA, are the  2 events I’m disappointed at possibly having to miss.

Friday, 5/4

(5-6PM) The Best Translated Book Award winner is being announced at McNally Jackson Bookshop (preceded by an authors meet & greet).  Immediately afterwards is A Literary Safari:  a visit to NYC’s oldest artist community where you get to wander in and out of the artists’ studios.  Authors will be giving readings and there will be a closing party at the Westbeth Artist Gallery.

Since these events don’t start until the evening I’m hoping to take in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, & Later South Asia.  And maybe even squeeze in a trip to the Melville House Bookstore in Brooklyn.

Saturday, 5/5

(1-3PM) The Best European Fiction panel will have three International authors reading and discussing their work:  Noëlle Revaz (Switzerland), Patrick Boltshauser (Liechtenstein), & Róbert Gál (Slovakia).

(6-7:30PM) The Liar Show – Lori @TNBBC found this event and it looks like a lot of fun.  It takes place at the Cornelia Street Cafe, and is described as 4 Storytellers. 3 True Stories. 1 Pack of Lies.

Sunday, 5/6

This day turned into a bit of a bust.  I bought tickets when they were first posted for A Conversation with Stéphane Hessel and Edgar Morin.  But that was cancelled due to “their participation in the May 6th election in France”.  It was replaced with a more interactive, audience participation event centering around the Occupy Movement.  While I support the Occupy Movement, I’m not sure this one is for me.  I may skip it and check out the Weegee exhibit at the International Center of Photography – Murder is My Business.  Weegee was a photojournalist who specialized in crime scenes and news stories in the 30’s & 40’s.  This show screams hard-boiled detective fiction and crime noir.  It’s one I’m absolutely dying to see.

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