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Guernica: Are you lazy?

Aleksandar Hemon: Yes, proudly so.

Guernica: But you tend to think out your novels a long way in advance.

Aleksandar Hemon: That’s a nice way to put it. The other way to put it is: I think about it until I have to write it. There are many things I think about that never get to the point of becoming serious. In other words, I try to talk myself out of writing, sometimes for many years, and when I run out of arguments, I write.

—Aleksandar Hemon, from this Guernica interview with Brad Fox, will speak at the PEN World Voices Festival.

Join him and other writers from the Balkan Peninsula discuss their writing lives, at home and in exile.



At Is The Artist Present?, leading authors and artists discuss what it means to pursue their craft in the public sphere.

How do we navigate financial dependence on corporations and government?

Is a true artist accessible to anyone and everyone?

Talk with former International PEN president and author Gyorgy Konrad; writer George Prochnik; author Deborah Eisenberg; and Creative Time’s Anne Pasternak. They’ll focus on the illustrious Stefan Zweig, whose work and life inspired Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel.


Dine and chat with PEN’s biggest supporters—from Malcolm Gladwell to Twitter CEO Dick Costolo—at the PEN Gala in NYC! We’re giving away free tickets to the winner of our #FreeExpressionIs competition at! Get writing. Deadline is Saturday, May 3!

I took another sip of wine. With the tip of the knife I cut around the shape made by my splayed fingers on the table, my hand and my arm sheathed now in the black lace glove that reached up to above the elbow, where a kind of wainscot of white skin separated the black glove from the edge of my sleeveless dress.

I noticed that the men at all the surrounding tables were watching me.

Monica Zgustova, Bad Women participant at PEN World Voices, in “The Silent Woman.”

Hear more at the Bad Women event, with Monica Zgustova, Amy Scholder (The Feminist Press), Bridgett Davis and more! 

When I peddled eggs in East Pittsburgh,
I’d meet up with many people
who worked at Westinghouse.
They greeted me like an old and trusted friend.
They’d say, “Margaret, if you tell us
those eggs are fresh, we know they’re fresh.”
I thought: It’s good to have
that kind of reputation. It’s good
to be able to look people in the face,
to shake a worker’s hand
with no need to apologize.
from “Capitalization” by Mark Nowak: poet, social critic, and instructor at Workers Justice Center. Hear the writers of WJC read at PENFest14