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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 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  »

July 21, 14

As an interpreter I’m a bit of a stage mother, pushing the writer or director for whom I’m interpreting to jump into the conversation (Forza! Dai! Sfondi! I whisper). The authors I translate are like house-guests. I don’t let them sleep with me:...Read More  »

July 9, 14

I wish American writers in general were less anti-intellectual, more interested in the interior life and exterior systems of power. I don't come from a subculture that had much in the way of an intellectual tradition at all. My people believed...Read More  »

June 24, 14

When you've lived and worked in places where writing can get you killed, where the act of telling the truth can take down powers, it's hard to have anything but soaring notions of what writers can and should aspire to do. Read More  »

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