PEN American Center

Press Release


New York, NY, April 20, 2016 – A delegation from Adalah-NY, O/R Books and Verso Books held an impromptu meeting with PEN American Center Executive Director Suzanne Nossel on Tuesday regarding the call for PEN to reject Israeli government sponsorship of the World Voices Festival due to the Israeli government’s human rights abuses and suppression of Palestinians’ freedom of expression. The meeting took place in the PEN American Center office in Manhattan after the delegation delivered a letter signed by 12,500 people that called on PEN to reject Israeli government sponsorship for the annual festival, which begins April 25 in New York City. The letter was accompanied by statements from more than 20 literary figures explaining why they signed the letter to PEN.

Though the delegation had not asked for an appointment in advance, Ms. Nossel agreed to meet. While waiting in the reception area, the delegation picked up hard copies of the program for the 2016 World Voices Festival that lists the Israeli Embassy among the “Champions” of the festival supporting writing and free expression.

Ms. Nossel told the visitors that she had read the statements by writers explaining why they believe PEN should reject Israeli government sponsorship. She said the letter and statements raised “legitimate concerns” and that the points were “not lost on her,” and she said there are diverse views on the issue. Ms. Nossel added that being responsive “may take time and space.” When John Oakes from O/R Books suggested that PEN supporters might fundraise to cover the costs of Israeli writers/participants so that PEN could return the money to the Israeli government, Ms. Nossel said PEN cannot consider returning the money, and asserted that there is a strong reaction against the word “boycott.” She did not elaborate on that point.

Press Coverage

Publishers Weekly

Abstract: 

PEN American Center has been called upon to reject the Israeli Government's sponsorship of its upcoming World Voices Festival because of the country's alleged abuses of human rights. The letter was signed by more than 60 writers, including a number of PEN members and PEN Award winners and Pulitzer Prize winners Junot Diaz, Alice Walker, and Richard Ford. Nearly a dozen organizations have also signed the letter.

Press Release

140 Writers Have Signed the Letter, Including 70 PEN Members and World Voices Festival Participants

April 12, 2016, New York, NY – Twenty-two literary figures who signed a letter calling on the PEN American Center to reject Israeli government sponsorship of its World Voices Festival due to Israel’s human rights abuses have elaborated on their decision in quotes below. The Festival is being held in New York City from April 25-May 1.

The letter, originally signed by 61 writers, was sent to PEN on March 29 by Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign to Boycott Israel. PEN indicated in a reply that they would not drop Israeli government funding. The number of letter signers has since grown to 140 writers and 13 organizations. Among the newer signers is Dr. Cornel West, who joins a number of other prominent writers and public intellectuals, including Angela Davis, Pulitzer recipients Junot Díaz, Richard Ford and Alice Walker, and National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich.

Press Coverage

The Nation (Pakistan)

Abstract: 

Some 100 writers, including Pulitzer Prize-winning Alice Walker, Richard Ford, and Junot Diaz, have urged the PEN American Centre to reject any support from Israel as it denies “basic rights to the Palestinian people.”

The writers sent an impassioned letter to PEN American Centre in March but it became public only on Wednesday. PEN American Center, created in 1922, is a group aiming to promote literature and support literary fellowship.

Press Coverage

The Electronic Intifada

Abstract: 

A letter signed by more than 100 writers, including Junot Díaz, Richard Ford, Eileen Myles and Rachel Kushner, calls on PEN American Center to reject support from the Israeli government for its annual World Voices Festival, scheduled for later this month in New York City.

The letter, which was first sent privately by the campaign group Adalah-NY to festival organizers, was published online on 5 April.

Since its publication, the list of signatories has grown. Organizers say they hope writers will continue to add their names.

Press Coverage

Flavorwire

Abstract: 

All is not well in the literary world.

That could be true at any moment of any day, sure, but this week has been especially tumultuous. Maybe that’s not accurate, either, because the letter that’s causing headlines (like this one!) was actually sent in March, though it’s only just now been made available to the public.

Press Coverage

Der Spiegel

Abstract: 

Die Pulitzerpreis-Gewinner Alice Walker, Richard Ford und Junot Díaz zählen zu den Unterzeichnern eines offenen Briefes, der sich an die amerikanische Sektion der internationalen Schriftstellervereinigung PEN richtet.

Darin fordern die über 100 Unterzeichner, dass das US-PEN-Zentrum die Unterstützung der israelischen Botschaft ablehnen solle, die zu den Sponsoren des jährlich vom PEN-Zentrum ausgerichteten Festivals World Voices zählt.

Press Coverage

PressTV

Abstract: 

More than 100 prominent writers and literary figures have written to PEN American Center, urging it to reject Israeli support for a festival in New York at the end of this month.

In a letter published online, they have denounced the Israeli embassy’s sponsorship of PEN’s seven-day annual World Voices Festival (PWVF).

Press Coverage

The Alternative Information Center

Abstract: 

On Tuesday April 5, Adalah-NY made public a letter signed by 10 anti-racist organizations and over 100 writers calling on the PEN American Center “to reject support from the Embassy of Israel” for PEN’s annual World Voices Festival, which runs from April 25-May 1 2016 in New York City.

Press Coverage

i24news

Abstract: 

Over 100 writers have penned a letter calling on the PEN American Center to reject support from the embassy of Israel, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

Writers including Pulitzer Prize winners Alice Walker and Junot Díaz wrote an angrily worded letter opposing the Israeli embassy’s sponsorship of PEN’s annual World Voices Festival (PWVF).

Pages