A Preview of this week’s PEN World Voices Festival
A week in celebration and investigation of African Literature
Tonight marks the beginning of the 11th annual PEN World Voices Festival in New York City. Co-curated this year by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the week-long event aims to celebrate African literature from within the continent and among its diaspora.
While the immensity of the region and brevity of the festival precludes comprehensive representation, the panels, workshops, performances, and discussions scheduled serve to highlight a number of prominent voices across various disciplines. Below is a selection of notable events taking place between May 4th and May 10th.
Monday, May 4, 7:30pm: The Future is Now
Featured guests: Fedor Alexandrovich, Mona Eltahawy, Richard Flanagan, Aminatta Forna, Zanele Muholi, Lola Shoneyin, Tom Stoppard, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Binyavanga Wainaina, Jackie Wang
Writers discuss what they believe the world will look like in 2050, presumably with a focus on Africa. Topics to consider include technological developments, water security, censorship, and migration.
Wednesday, May 6, 6pm: Queer Futures
Featured guests: Kehinde Bademosi, Zanele Muholi, Binyavanga Wainaina
Many African countries have criminalized homosexuality, with several going so far as to institute the death penalty against LGBT citizens. Here, panelists consider how African literature can strengthen the gay rights movement and nurture a climate of acceptance.
Thursday, May 7, 3pm: Finding Security in Unsafe Passages: A United Nations event about Protecting Journalists’ Safety and Rights
Featured guests: H.E. Mr. François Delattre, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, H.E. Mrs. Bénédicte Frankinet, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations, Herb Boyd, Susan E. Davis, Karin Deutsch Karlekar, Patrice Keats, Charles Seife, Frank Smyth
Among the biggest hurdles to establishing a diverse global African narrative has been the limitations placed on journalists reporting on developing events. The 2015 World Press Freedom Index reflects an abysmal track record across the continent, particularly in the Horn of Africa. Panelists will address issues of safety and access to sources.
Also of note:
Tuesday, May 5, 10am: Charlie Hebdo and Challenges to Freedom of Expression
Thursday, May 7, 7pm: African Poets: The New Generation
Saturday, May 9, 1pm: Who We Talk About When We Talk About Translation: Women’s Voices