The mighty PEN

Having just today paid my membership dues for the Sydney branch of PEN, the international association of writers working to “advance literature, defend free expression, and foster literary fellowship”, I am thrilled to report on an event I attended tonight as part of the PEN World Voices festival of international literature here in New York.

My friend Madeleine came with me to gorge on a buffet of readings from a stellar cast of writers. Introduced by Salman Rushdie, the theme of “Writing Home” was addressed by writer/comic Steve Martin (a hilarious extract from his forthcoming memoir), followed by others including Don DeLillo, youngest ever Booker prize-winner Kiran Desai, Mr Sandman himself Neil Gaiman, Nobel Prize recipient Nadine Gordimer, and a reading from Mr Rushdie himself to close out the night. It was jaw-dropping to see and hear these writers in person, all on the same stage, on the same night.

This festival is directed by former Sydney Writers’ Festival Director Caro Llewellyn.

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