… because if it is not out there, it doesn’t mean that it people are not thinking of it, it doesn’t mean that it goes away, it just goes under the carpet and that is the worst place for it to be.
An excerpt from Salman Rushdie’s “The Value of The Word”
Learn what “it” is in person at the PEN World Voices Festival. April 28th in NYC. Learn more.
I have an iguana. Today I watched the iguana eat a snowball. It was the first snow of the year, and as Danielle and I watched the snow, each comparing it to past snows, it occurred to her that the iguana, our proxy child, and a South American creature by nature, had never experienced this. She collected a fist-sized ball and we brought it to him, snug under his Repti-Lamp in our bedroom. The first time his iguana eyes had seen a snowball, and he stepped back, then attacked and ate it, because this is what we do with the unfamiliar.
Even in this black and white photograph, barely covering her bad skin, short hair in black curls, a map of veins along her neck stretched taut like guitar strings, glittering brown eyes half-open to close, smooth hard jaws with skin stretched to an open mouth hungry for the microphone a few inches away—she is pulling back as if taking a deep breath…and my narration ends there. I always wonder what it is she is going to sing—without the song she sings, the photograph is incomplete, it always leaves me hungry.
It’s enough for me to be sure that you and I exist at this moment.
About two and a half or three months after I arrived in this place, the interrogation began again, but with more intensity than before. Then the real torturing started.
Excerpts of Abu Zubaydah’s first-hand account of his interrogation in a secret CIA prison.
Celebrates those who have dared to stand at The PEN America World Voices Festival