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I am on the 2 train headed to Madison Square Garden. I have Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones. It’s a hard copy so I can’t squeeze it into my pocket. I have to hold it proudly, which I do. It is a brilliant book about the human spirit. Last week, I attended a conversation between Ward and Paul Holdengrabber at the New York Public Library. Ward finds Faulkner inspiring. Holdengrabber introduced Faulkner’s Noble Prize Acceptance Speech as a topic of discussion.

“Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.”

Last night, I attended Politics As Story, a discussion between Tony Kushner and Paul Auster. Auster wasn’t there. I arrived late (no excuse) so I don’t know where he was. But it was May 5th, my mother’s birthday, Cinco de Mayo, so maybe Auster was drunk, with plastic beads and sorority sisters strung around his neck, their vaginas holding him by the throat, forcing him to pontificate on what it means to be a writer in Brooklyn these days. Or maybe he wasn’t at my mother’s birthday party, but celebrating Cinco de Mayo in the way American beer company’s have taught Americans to celebrate Cinco de Mayo so he was overstuffed on Tostitos and guacamole or vomiting Corona in an alley, or nursing a brain freeze caused by drinking his frozen margarita too fast. 

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penamerican:

On Wednesday, September 19, a percentage of your purchase made at the Park Slope Barnes & Noble or at BN.com at anytime will support the PEN Writers’ Emergency Fund. Support your colleagues by buying a book!

Use Bookfair ID 10825065 at checkout when making an purchase in-store or online. (For BN.com, at the payment page when prompted for credit card information, scroll to the bottom of the page and select the “Check this box if this is a Bookfair order” then enter the Bookfair ID.)

The Barnes & Noble PEN Writers’ Emergency Fund Bookfair is supported by the Secrets of Publishing Book Reviews and Features Panel event with PEN member Susan Shapiro. A discussion with the editors of the New York Times Book ReviewWall Street JournalBrooklyn RailTime Out New York, and Book Forum will be moderated by Susan Shapiro.

Wed., September 19, 7 p.m.
Park Slope Barnes & Noble
267 7th Avenue/Brooklyn, NY 11215

The PEN Writers’ Emergency Fund gives emergency grants to writers who find themselves in severe financial crisis. In the past year, Writers’ Fund grants have helped a novelist facing eviction stay in his home, a playwright keep the power on and continue his lifesaving home dialysis treatment, a journalist purchase much-needed hearing aids, plus help more than 30 other writers in crisis. You can support our efforts to help writers in need by participating in the Barnes & Noble PEN Writers’ Emergency Fund Bookfair.

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I just finished an inspiring few days as part of PEN’s programmatic exchange in South Africa, with a stop at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg. The Academy selects promising young students from around the continent and provides them with a first rate education, with a focus on entrepreneurship.
Using lesson plans prepared by PEN American Center’s Readers & Writers Director, Stacy Leigh, I taught a creative writing workshop that focused on setting and character. I also gave a lecture on free expression and entrepreneurship to a room full of very motivated students. Four of the students in the second photo—Priscilla Takondwa Semphere, Alexia Paradrai, Hayat Mohammed Seid, and Israel Majale founded their own PEN Africa Club, which they hope to use to hold writing contents and compile children’s stories from around the continent. (The other student, Hazem Fahmy, confided to me that he suffered from writer’s block after beginning his own epic fantasy novel series.)
It’s an impressive place, with students represented from 35 countries and all walks of life.
It was a warm welcome to South Africa. Tomorrow I travel to Cape Town to join the poet Cathy Park Hong at the Open Book Festival for readings and discussions on free expression with South African PEN VP (and crime fiction writer) Margie Orford.
—Deji Olukotun I just finished an inspiring few days as part of PEN’s programmatic exchange in South Africa, with a stop at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg. The Academy selects promising young students from around the continent and provides them with a first rate education, with a focus on entrepreneurship.
Using lesson plans prepared by PEN American Center’s Readers & Writers Director, Stacy Leigh, I taught a creative writing workshop that focused on setting and character. I also gave a lecture on free expression and entrepreneurship to a room full of very motivated students. Four of the students in the second photo—Priscilla Takondwa Semphere, Alexia Paradrai, Hayat Mohammed Seid, and Israel Majale founded their own PEN Africa Club, which they hope to use to hold writing contents and compile children’s stories from around the continent. (The other student, Hazem Fahmy, confided to me that he suffered from writer’s block after beginning his own epic fantasy novel series.)
It’s an impressive place, with students represented from 35 countries and all walks of life.
It was a warm welcome to South Africa. Tomorrow I travel to Cape Town to join the poet Cathy Park Hong at the Open Book Festival for readings and discussions on free expression with South African PEN VP (and crime fiction writer) Margie Orford.
—Deji Olukotun

I just finished an inspiring few days as part of PEN’s programmatic exchange in South Africa, with a stop at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg. The Academy selects promising young students from around the continent and provides them with a first rate education, with a focus on entrepreneurship.

Using lesson plans prepared by PEN American Center’s Readers & Writers Director, Stacy Leigh, I taught a creative writing workshop that focused on setting and character. I also gave a lecture on free expression and entrepreneurship to a room full of very motivated students. Four of the students in the second photo—Priscilla Takondwa Semphere, Alexia Paradrai, Hayat Mohammed Seid, and Israel Majale founded their own PEN Africa Club, which they hope to use to hold writing contents and compile children’s stories from around the continent. (The other student, Hazem Fahmy, confided to me that he suffered from writer’s block after beginning his own epic fantasy novel series.)

It’s an impressive place, with students represented from 35 countries and all walks of life.

It was a warm welcome to South Africa. Tomorrow I travel to Cape Town to join the poet Cathy Park Hong at the Open Book Festival for readings and discussions on free expression with South African PEN VP (and crime fiction writer) Margie Orford.

—Deji Olukotun

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Last night, I hopped off the plane and headed straight to Kalk Bay Books, a beautiful book store overlooking the ocean. My friend and author Martinique Stillwell released her new book Thinking Up a Hurricane (Penguin Africa), a memoir about growing up on a yacht around the world with a slightly tweaked family. Nikki was hilarious and the excerpt she read from the story was both witty and disturbing. Congrats to Nikki!
Today, the Open Book Festival begins in earnest. I’ll be attending panels on literacy and censorship and sitting on a panel of authors tonight.
—Deji Olukotun Last night, I hopped off the plane and headed straight to Kalk Bay Books, a beautiful book store overlooking the ocean. My friend and author Martinique Stillwell released her new book Thinking Up a Hurricane (Penguin Africa), a memoir about growing up on a yacht around the world with a slightly tweaked family. Nikki was hilarious and the excerpt she read from the story was both witty and disturbing. Congrats to Nikki!
Today, the Open Book Festival begins in earnest. I’ll be attending panels on literacy and censorship and sitting on a panel of authors tonight.
—Deji Olukotun Last night, I hopped off the plane and headed straight to Kalk Bay Books, a beautiful book store overlooking the ocean. My friend and author Martinique Stillwell released her new book Thinking Up a Hurricane (Penguin Africa), a memoir about growing up on a yacht around the world with a slightly tweaked family. Nikki was hilarious and the excerpt she read from the story was both witty and disturbing. Congrats to Nikki!
Today, the Open Book Festival begins in earnest. I’ll be attending panels on literacy and censorship and sitting on a panel of authors tonight.
—Deji Olukotun

Last night, I hopped off the plane and headed straight to Kalk Bay Books, a beautiful book store overlooking the ocean. My friend and author Martinique Stillwell released her new book Thinking Up a Hurricane (Penguin Africa), a memoir about growing up on a yacht around the world with a slightly tweaked family. Nikki was hilarious and the excerpt she read from the story was both witty and disturbing. Congrats to Nikki!

Today, the Open Book Festival begins in earnest. I’ll be attending panels on literacy and censorship and sitting on a panel of authors tonight.

—Deji Olukotun

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penamerican:

Don Dellilo

Monday, 10/22: PEN Member Mark Z. Danielewski presents a dramatic reading of The Fifty Year Sword at St. Joseph’s College

Tuesday 10/23: The 2012 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony

Wednesday 10/24: PEN Members Don DeLillo and Jonathan Franzen in conversation (DeLillo reading from The Angel Esmeralda) at the New York Public Library

Friday 10/26: Fiction and Memoir reading w/ Luis Jaramillo and PEN Member Sarah Manguso at the Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House

Saturday 10/27: PEN Member Dorothea Lasky reading with Eric Baus at the Penn Book Center