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The PEN Ten

The PEN Ten is PEN America's weekly interview series. We keep the ten questions relatively unchanged to see how the answers vary from contributor to contributor, over time, and through social, political, and financial ups and downs, knowing that no two responses will ever be the same. Past participants have included Roxane Gay, Etgar Keret, Chris Abani, Amitava Kumar, Elif Batuman, and Mohsin Hamid. 

Founded by Lauren Cerand and Antonio Aiello, the current guest editors are Randa JarrarNatalie DiazAlex SeguraNicole Sealey, and Ken Chen. They will be soliciting a broad range of interviews from writers, poets, and translators they admire.

November 24, 15

"I think the responsibility of the writer is to interrogate their reality and the reality of what they see and then write that. I do believe there is collective power in these individual truths." Read More  »

November 10, 15

"In order for the world to function, we have to accept a certain level of falseness. It’s the responsibility of the writer to expose that falseness." Read More  »

November 3, 15

"A writer’s “revolutionary duty,” as Gabriel García Márquez once put it, is 'to write well.' The responsibility of a human being, on the other hand, is to practice compassion for others while growing justice in this world. Since (most) writers are...Read More  »

October 27, 15

"I have a responsibility to history to get out of the way and try as best I can to document what I see, even if it is internal, because I believe deeply that the internal is one of the richest sites of history." Read More  »

October 20, 15

Adriana Ramírez is the winner of the inaugural PEN/Fusion Emerging Writers Prize for her manuscript "Dead Boys," which takes an unflinching look at the bodies of those who have died too young: people hanged by a drug cartel on the U.S.-Mexico...Read More  »

October 13, 15

"So many of the awful things I see in the real world seem at their heart to stem from a failure of empathy, from an unwillingness to see those around us as full-fledged people in their own right, with all of the flaws and mistakes and emotions and...Read More  »

October 6, 15

"My most recurrent images involve water, and specifically, our rescue in the Straits of Florida when we escaped from Cuba: our small wooden fishing boat up against a giant oil freighter so big it was like a giant wall, and Cuba on the other side,...Read More  »

September 29, 15

"I do believe there is a collective purpose to telling the stories that people know to be true, but that they have not yet been able to articulate, or are afraid to articulate." Read More  »

September 22, 15

"That’s one of the interesting ironies of being a writer: It’s something you do in isolation and yet it’s something that connects to and unites, not only other writers but all people. I say that’s the irony of writing, but of course that’s really...Read More  »

September 15, 15

"It is the challenges we pose to ourselves that bring the greatest honesty, lucidity, imagination, directness. I consider my responsibility as a poet as something related to the journalist, citing interviews with subconscious fears and aspirations...Read More  »