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PEN American Center

The PEN Ten

The PEN Ten is PEN America's biweekly interview series curated by Lauren Cerand.

October 29, 14

[W]riters have to write, even under threat. I think often of Tahar Djaout’s words: “If you speak, you die / If you are silent, you die / So speak and die.” Read More  »

October 24, 14

I sometimes used to describe my time in Montreal as an unmitigated catastrophe, but that was untrue. I got a novel out of it. Read More  »

October 22, 14

I think that publishers and editors have a great deal of responsibility, but I’m not sure that writers do. Write the best book you possibly can. That’s it. Read More  »

October 20, 14

Is the conscience the soul’s surveillance of the self? When are observations neutral? Does a writer, even without knowing, intend to “use” observations for the benefit of the writing in a way that is markedly different from the way advertisers...Read More  »

October 14, 14

I fear it is fashionable for many writers to think that they have to be right. I want to be wrong but true. Our task is to be human. Read More  »

September 30, 14

Writing about my family in a memoir was about as daring as it gets ... I was sure that when the book came out I was going to be ostracized not only by my family but by everyone I knew. Read More  »

September 16, 14

Suddenly seeing myself as a writer-of-facts changed the way I looked at reality—so it was sort of a double-edged occasion. Guaranteed impediment to having a good time: knowing you'll have to write about it. Read More  »

September 9, 14

After hearing from readers who told me how the book touched and influenced them, I realized that what I say does have an impact. Of course, I need to write as truthfully and deeply as I know how, but there are moments when a book can give hope to...Read More  »

September 2, 14

My obsession is to get it right, plot, characters, atmosphere, logic. I never go to sleep without figuring out what I will write tomorrow. Read More  »

August 12, 14

My lifelong hero—ever since I was a boy—is Thomas Paine, the American Revolutionary and radical-democratic pamphleteer. I would love to be identified with his words, words such as “The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth” and “We have it...Read More  »