The fifth annual PEN Word Voices festival will kick off in New York City on April 28, featuring sixty events with writers from forty countries, PEN American Center announced on Wednesday. Participating writers for this year’s festival, themed "Evolution/Revolution," include Muriel Barbary of France, Wafaa Bilal of Iraq, Jose Dalisay of the Philippines, Péter Nádas of Hungary, Nawal El Saadawi of Egypt, and Meir Shalev of Israel, as well as U.S. writers Jonathan Ames, Edwidge Danticat, Rigoberto Gonzáles, among many others.
The program, which runs through Sunday, May 3, will include panels on topics such as "The Language of Fear" and "Contested Territory"; conversations between authors; a film screening; tributes to authors Harold Pinter and Ken Saro-Wiwa; a translation slam; a reading hosted by the New York City storytelling series the Moth; and the PEN Cabaret, an evening melding writing and the performing arts. At the Saturday night cabaret, musicians Lou Reed and Carrie Brownstein, actors James Franco and Parker Posey, and multimedia artist Laurie Anderson will perform alongside poet Nick Laird of Ireland, U.S. novelists Horacio Castellanos Moya, Mark Danielewski, and Walter Mosley, and slam poet Steve Connell.
"2009 is a year of significant anniversaries—from Galileo's telescope (1609) to Darwin's On the Origin of Species (1859), from the Cuban Revolution (1959) to the collapse of Communism across Eastern Europe (1989) and Tiananmen Square (1989)," said PEN American Center in a newsletter to members. "For this year's festival, writers from all over the world will consider how the world changes and how we change."
Many events, taking place at various venues throughout the city, are free and open to the public. Ticketing information, the festival schedule, and a full list of participating authors are available on the PEN American Center Web site.