Sunday, April 08, 2007

Meet my PEN pals

PEN's World Voices festival, on April 24–29, is a rare chance to see/meet/hear non-English and non-American writers in New York. (You'd think this shouldn't be such a rare occurrence in this cosmopolitan city of ours, but the state of translation in the US is pretty pathetic.) Anyway, some of the groupings are intriguing. What to expect, from instance, from a reading including Miranda July, Eric Bogosian and Algerian noir auteur Yasmina Khadra on April 28? Will I suddenly sprout the gift of ubiquity so I can go to the panel on literary thrillers with Vladimir Sorokin and Jean Echenoz that same day? And some of these writers are pretty damn busy: Alain Mabanckou is listed as participating in four events, as is Khadra (including a great-sounding panel on Mediterranean thrillers with Massimo Carlotto and Carlo Lucarelli).

Still, I can't help but whip out my red editor's pen. PEN dedicates a section to translation, something close to my heart for obvious reasons. Among other things, it includes the titles of non-English novels that deserve to be translated or are out of print in English. Amélie Nothomb's last name is misspelled twice by the very person who recommends her. Pretty scary, considering the books are nominated by PEN members.

All right, enough with the petty hating: Despite its establishment timidity, I love PEN, really I do! So let's end this post with a special shout-out to all my PEN peeps and their new prez, the stone-cold fox (librarian division) known as Francine Prose! Go Licky!

MP3 Larry Tee featuring Princess Superstar "Licky (Hervé Goes Low Mix)"

Thanks to my colleague Bruce Tantum for alerting me—and all Time Out New York readers, for that matter—to this awesome track.

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