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.