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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.

February 2, 16

"As a poet with a background in law, I am obsessed by the philosophy, the poetics, and the practice of justice. I am obsessed by what Whitman calls, 'the rights of them the others are down upon.'" Read More  »

January 19, 16

I would caution us to refrain from spending too much time in articulating [writers'] collective purpose for fear of leaching the blood out of the “uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor,” and most especially for fear of the great killer of art...Read More  »

January 5, 16

"I’ve said often that crime fiction in particular is an excellent vehicle for social commentary, because so much of what happens in society has some tie, or root, to crime." Read More  »

December 15, 15

"Perhaps some might not think of this as censorship, but how a society remembers can’t be separated from how it wants to be remembered or from what it wishes it was. Silences have reinforced a status quo that continues to privilege what’s always...Read More  »

December 8, 15

"I think we Americans have to flip the question and ask, in what ways are we ourselves in a condition of carceral submission, surveilled and made docile? How much have we internalized our own Big Brother?" Read More  »

December 1, 15

"I joke that some people go to see psychologists, but I get my issues out on the page and make it my readers’ problem." Read More  »

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  »