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Authorities have initiated a widespread media blackout in Egypt: “Security forces are also becoming increasingly violent against both demonstrators and journalists.”

Doug Liman directs a production of Reckoning with Torture at the Sundance Film Festival this Saturday, featuring Paul Auster, Annie Proulx, George Saunders, Esmeralda Santiago, and others.

Four of works on the 2011 Best Translated Book Awards fiction longlist were included in last year’s PEN Translation Feature; another showed up in our featured excerpts from the PEN World Voices Festival.

The Center for Fiction launches its new web site and online literary magazine, featuring interviews with Cynthia Ozick and Yiyun Li, new fiction from Kim Chinquee and Peter Cameron, and more.

David Haglund reviews Yan Lianke’s The Dream of Ding Village, a book, banned in China despite the author’s attempts at self-censorship, about the destructive effects of blood selling in the Henan province.

The National Book Critics Circle announces the finalists for its 2010 awards, including Christopher Hitchens, Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Franzen, and Anne Carson.

“When you hit a wall, just kick it in.” Patti Smith talks to the Guardian, among other things, about her book Just Kids, a finalist for the NBCC Awards.

“The biggest challenge is simply trying to visualise something that doesn’t exist.” Shaun Tan talks about his film The Lost Thing, just nominated for an Oscar.

“Art can save our country.” Despite news that the husband of one of its performers was arrested that morning, the Belarus Free Theater gave a moving performance at Le Poisson Rouge last week, along with readings and performances from E.L. Doctor, Billy Crudup, Don DeLillo, Tom Stoppard, and others.

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We are relieved to hear everyone at the Japan PEN Club in Tokyo is safe following Friday morning’s earthquake. Our thoughts and hopes go out to all who have been affected.

“English isn’t a language; it’s a big mess.” Susan Bernofsky attends translator David Bellos’s lecture on Georges Perec and other topics ranging from “matrix literature” to what Bellos calls “Tranglish,” “an ‘almost invisible’ language that ‘offends nobody.’”

Congratulations to the deserving winners of the National Book Critics Circle Awards, including C.D. Wright (Poetry), Clare Cavanagh (Criticism), Darin Strauss (Autobiography), and Jennifer Egan (Fiction), all PEN Members. See the full list of winners and finalists.

“That was just the opening act.” Over at The Rumpus, Mark Follman takes a closer look at social media’s role in the uprisings spreading across the Middle East.

In honor of International Women’s Day, we feature a special video series from the PEN archives, including Zadie Smith reading from her novel On Beauty (part of the 2006 PEN World Voices Festival).

“I’m only telling the truth.” Andy Morgan of The Observer examines how a little-known rapper, inspired by Tupac Shakur, helped galvanize Tunisia’s youth during its revolt.

Matthew Alexander, a former military interrogator who has appeared in PEN’s Reckoning with Torture series, points out the “blatant hypocrisy” in former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s recent memoir.

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“Now it is up to us.” Two years ago, human rights activist and journalist Natalia Estemirova was found murdered after she was abducted outside her home in Chechnya. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 52 journalists have been killed in Russia with confirmed motive since 1992.

PEN is proud to announce the recipients of the 2011 Translation Fund Grants. From a pool of more than 130 applications, 11 projects were chosen for funding. This diverse and promising work stretches from Swahili poetry to Belarusian dystopia, from 20th-century Swiss low society to the Cultural Revolution in China.

Wendy Wimmer investigates the Best American Short Stories series and finds that more than half of the chosen stories come from just 12 publications.

The Goodreads Book Club is partnering with First Book to build youth literacy by delivering books to children in need. For every 10,000 Goodreads members who add Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad to their bookshelves, the organizations will donate 1,000 books to schools and communities around the country.

At Big Think, Paul Auster defends the novel in a response to Philip Roth’s recent assertion that he no longer reads fiction at all (“I wised up.”). Auster points out: “[Roth] keeps writing books, and people keep reading them.”

“Finally free.” The New York Times reports that dissident writer Liao Yiwu—who was to have participated in this year’s PEN World Voices Festival but was barred from leaving China just days before the Festival kicked off—has fled to Germany and declared himself an exile.

Chuck Klosterman of Grantland digs up a video clip of Leo Tolstoy on YouTube, featuring some surreal, 100-year-old footage of the snowy-bearded author sawing wood, riding a horse, lying on his deathbed.

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In honor of Ernest Hemingway’s birthday this past week, the latest PEN Shorts contest asks writers to take a story ripped from the tabloids and rewrite it in the author’s signature style.

PEN Member Jim Shepard sits down with Robert Birnbaum at The Morning News for an entertaining conversation about researching stories on other people’s dimes, finding the time to read, and rehearsing your fears in fiction.

“A concert of verse in the voices and languages of the authors.” Those interested in poetry and translation can find a great resource in lyrikline.org, a huge database of international poets with audio recordings and translations of their work.

’09 PEN/Saul Bellow winner Cormac McCarthy also celebrated his birthday this past week. Back in 2007, Colson Whitehead—currently reporting on the World Series of Poker at Grantlandread from McCarthy’s The Road at PEN World Voices.

At the Guardian’s Books blog, Chris Power—who is also conducting a fantastic survey of the short story—looks at the brief work of Félix Fénéon, who wrote spare, Twitter-length news items for the Paris daily Le Matin a hundred years before there was Twitter.

“These measures were designed to destroy people’s minds.” A month after Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei was released from prison, his sister discusses the psychological tactics employed against him during his detention.

2010 PEN Translation Fund Recipient Daniel Brunet Presents Dea Loher’s Bluebeard
When: May 21, 2012
Where: Goethe-Institut New York, Wyoming Building: 5 East 3rd Street, NYC
What time: 7:30 p.m.
Free and open to the public.
Daniel Brunet received a PEN Translation Fund Award in 2010 to support his translation of Dea Loher’s play The Last Fire. He has continued to translate Loher’s work, and now is presenting a reading of his latest: Dea Loher’s Bluebeard—Hope of Women, which will be shown as a staged reading this Monday at the Goethe Institut’s event space in the East Village, the Wyoming Building.
(via PEN.org » Blog Archive 2010 PEN Translation Fund Recipient Daniel Brunet Presents Dea Loher’s Bluebeard)

2010 PEN Translation Fund Recipient Daniel Brunet Presents Dea Loher’s Bluebeard

When: May 21, 2012

Where: Goethe-Institut New York, Wyoming Building: 5 East 3rd Street, NYC

What time: 7:30 p.m.

Free and open to the public.

Daniel Brunet received a PEN Translation Fund Award in 2010 to support his translation of Dea Loher’s play The Last Fire. He has continued to translate Loher’s work, and now is presenting a reading of his latest: Dea Loher’s Bluebeard—Hope of Women, which will be shown as a staged reading this Monday at the Goethe Institut’s event space in the East Village, the Wyoming Building.

(via PEN.org » Blog Archive 2010 PEN Translation Fund Recipient Daniel Brunet Presents Dea Loher’s Bluebeard)

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PEN Translation Committee Member Burton Pike has been selected for the 2012 Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize, an annual prize awarded by the Goethe-Institut Chicago for an outstanding translation from the German. The prize, which has been around since 1996, comes with a hefty purse ($10,000) and a one-month residency at the beautiful Literarisches Colloquium Berlin. Pike is being honored for his translation of Gerhard Meier’s Toteninsel (Isle of the Dead), a classic of late-twentieth-century Swiss literature.
(via PEN.org » Blog Archive Burton Pike Wins Wolff Prize - PEN.org)

PEN Translation Committee Member Burton Pike has been selected for the 2012 Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize, an annual prize awarded by the Goethe-Institut Chicago for an outstanding translation from the German. The prize, which has been around since 1996, comes with a hefty purse ($10,000) and a one-month residency at the beautiful Literarisches Colloquium Berlin. Pike is being honored for his translation of Gerhard Meier’s Toteninsel (Isle of the Dead), a classic of late-twentieth-century Swiss literature.

(via PEN.org » Blog Archive Burton Pike Wins Wolff Prize - PEN.org)

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Book Expo America (BEA) kicks off on June 4th at the Javits Center, and Russia is both this year’s guest of honor and the focus of BEA’s Global Forum. In association with BEA and sponsored by Russia’s Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communication, Read Russia 2012 will present a week-long “showcase” of Russian literary and book arts in various locations throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Read Russia 2012 offers opportunities outside BEA to meet and engage with a new generation of Russian literary leaders and newsmakers. More than 50 contemporary Russian writers and publishers will arrive in New York during festival week, among them such writers and journalists as Dmitry Bykov, Sergei Lukyanenko, Vladimir Makanin, Edward Radzinsky, Master Chen, and Mikhail Shishkin…You can read the introduction to the Read Russia Anthology by PEN Translation Committee member Antonina Bouis here.
(via PEN.org » Blog Archive The Russians are Writing! The Russians are Coming! - PEN.org)

Book Expo America (BEA) kicks off on June 4th at the Javits Center, and Russia is both this year’s guest of honor and the focus of BEA’s Global Forum. In association with BEA and sponsored by Russia’s Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communication, Read Russia 2012 will present a week-long “showcase” of Russian literary and book arts in various locations throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Read Russia 2012 offers opportunities outside BEA to meet and engage with a new generation of Russian literary leaders and newsmakers. More than 50 contemporary Russian writers and publishers will arrive in New York during festival week, among them such writers and journalists as Dmitry Bykov, Sergei Lukyanenko, Vladimir Makanin, Edward Radzinsky, Master Chen, and Mikhail Shishkin…You can read the introduction to the Read Russia Anthology by PEN Translation Committee member Antonina Bouis here.

(via PEN.org » Blog Archive The Russians are Writing! The Russians are Coming! - PEN.org)