PEN America's 2018 iteration of its World Voices Festival bears the theme "Resist and Reimagine," doubling down on the organization's dedication to resisting potential restrictions on free speech under the Trump Administration while suggesting hope for the future.
The festival, which comprises more than 60 events in "dozens" of venues across New York City, will run April 16-22 this year, and will turn its focus to exploring free speech in the United States. This year's festival is co-sponsored by The Village Voice.
The festival will, the nonprofit announced in a statement, "bring together the world’s foremost authors and other luminaries at a time when many are turning to literature and the arts not for escapism, but as a guide to navigate contemporary crises." The festival brings in a diverse range of talents from across the world, from up-and-coming authors such as Francisco Cantú and Jelanie Cobb to well established authors including Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Salman Rushdie (a festival founder), and Eileen Myles.
Other big-name authors and performers involved include Ron Chernow, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Dave Eggers, Roxane Gay, Xiaolu Guo, Masha Gessen, Chris Hayes, Siri Hustvedt, Jhumpa Lahiri, Hasan Minhaj, Eileen Myles, R.J. Palacio, Leila Sales, Anita Sarkeesian, Leila Slimani, and Colson Whitehead.
"While the present political moment in the United State feels unprecedented and unparalleled, when we turn toward the rest of the world the tide of revanchism we are enduring is neither new nor confined to our own borders," PEN America executive director Suzanne Nossel said in a statement. "In the digital age, with so much of our discourse reduced to tweets and sound bites, face-to-face conversation across cultures about how to realize a different collective future is essential. If frayed relationships between the world’s governments are ever to be repaired, it will be because we nurtured relationships, empathy, and understanding among peoples—that’s what the PEN World Voices Festival does.”