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PEN American Center

The PEN Ten

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

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  »

June 17, 14

The translator ... bears an enormous responsibility, not just in relation to the source text, but in representing a foreign culture. Translations can create or strengthen stereotypes of foreign literatures. Or translations can compel us to see them...Read More  »

June 3, 14

Observation is posing interesting questions. Surveillance is getting specific answers. Only one of those is meant to be used against the private citizen. The line, then, depends entirely on the purpose. Read More  »

May 27, 14

Writers have a collective purpose precisely because the notion of a public intellectual has fallen out of fashion. The most interesting ideas, the most crucial philosophies, are always secrets out of range. Read More  »