PEN America World Voices: Richard Flanagan
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PEN America World Voices Festival
The Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture: Richard Flanagan
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The PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature traditionally brings hundreds of writers from around the world to New York and Los Angeles each spring, drawing audiences of thousands to book talks, readings, and lectures. With those in-person events now impossible to convene, PEN America has curated an ongoing digital version of the Festival that includes a suite of podcasts, videos, interviews, and musical playlists, with live events and other features to be rolled out over the coming weeks. You can learn more about PEN Across America's North Carolina Piedmont Chapter here.
In an era when the agreed-upon factual basis of our daily news is constantly undermined, there has never been a greater need for us to hear the deeper truths afforded by literature. This virtual edition of America’s premier international literary festival will engage with contested histories and memory, challenge the fabrications of truth served to us on an almost daily basis, and celebrate the beauty and power of storytelling.
The Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture has a very rich tradition. Arthur Miller served as President of PEN International from 1965-69 and this distinguished lectureship honors his legacy of unflinching defense of creative freedom both as an advocate and through his writings. Previous Lecturers include Arundhati Roy, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Umberto Eco, Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, Christopher Hitchens, Colm Tóibín, David Grossman, Nawal El Sadaawi, Masha Gessen, and Wole Soyinka.
From the author of the Man Booker Prize-winning The Narrow Road to the Deep North comes a wrenching novel of family, climate change, and and the resilience of the human spirit–an elegy to our disappearing world, The Living Sea of Waking Dreams.
In a world of perennial fire and growing extinctions, Anna’s aged mother is dying–if her three children would just allow it. Condemned by their pity to living, subjected to increasingly desperate medical interventions, she instead turns her focus to her hospital window, through which she escapes into visions of horror and delight. When Anna’s finger vanishes and a few months later her knee disappears, Anna too feels the pull of the window. She begins to see that all around her others are similarly vanishing, yet no one else notices. All Anna can do is keep her mother alive. But the window keeps opening wider, taking Anna and the reader ever deeper into an eerily beautiful story of grief and possibility, of loss and love and orange-bellied parrots. Hailed on publication in Australia as Flanagan’s greatest novel yet, The Living Sea of Waking Dreams is a rising ember storm illuminating what remains to us when the inferno beckons: one part elegy, one part dream, one part hope.
RICHARD FLANAGAN’s seven novels have received numerous honours and are published in forty-two countries. He won the Commonwealth Book Prize for Gould’s Book of Fish and the Man Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North. He lives in Tasmania.