Event: Opening Night: Written on Water, PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature 2011
PEN American Center is taking it up a couple of notches this year. The hub of this year’s World Voices Festival of International Literature is centered in the über-hip Chelsea and Meatpacking neighborhoods of Manhattan, specifically at the Standard Hotel and the High Line Park, both head turning features of this snappy area, where supermodels and Diane von Furstenberg brush up against the Hudson River and some of New York City’s most exciting architecture.
On the 25th of February 2011, I got a chance to sit down with Atiq Rahimi, world-renowned author of Earth and Ashes, The Patience Stone, and A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear, and film director, at the Gaby Restaurant at the Sofitel Hotel on West 44th street in New York City while he was in the
The ongoing hubbub in the United States over the expunging of the word nigger from a new edition of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn draws attention yet again to contentious and long-standing debates relating to race and racism, free speech and censorship, and education and enculturation, among others.
A few years back I found myself sifting through books at the Powell’s satellite store in the Portland International Airport. In search of some good in-flight reading, I stumbled upon Gina Berriault’s The Descent. Its yellowed and frayed pages called out to me from the pile of books on the cart. This copy had obviously seen better days, with its pages beginning to pull away from the binding. This, for me, was a sign it was sure to be a good book.
My first thought when I think about feeling peace goes to a time walking around the Dal Lake (Dal means a lake in Kashmiri language). A young girl sauntering around this simply named rippling swathe of water, looking at the silent shikaras (wooden boats) glide in a mute distance, the sun going down - hushing everyone, I would savor the peace that I thought existed around me. The silence and the whispers hung like molasses in the air, as I watched the saffron sky, blue mountains, and the sparkling water enter into a pact of darkness. Turned out, this idyllic time was an illusion (as all life is I agree).
Japanese novelist Natsuo Kirino (a pen name) is generally categorized as a crime fiction writer, though given the range and depth of characters she writes about, crimes are incidental to the designs of her plots. Given the social and personal forces her characters struggle against, murder, robbery, or fraud are inevitable, even necessary. She’s as much a crime writer as, say, Jim Thompson is a crime writer, though her tendencies are more those of Flannery O’Connor, as Kirino herself admits.