Testimony on behalf of PEN before The Congressional-Executive Commission on China in Washington. Click here to see the video recording of this session on Tuesday November 9, 2010. For Voice of America report in Chinese, click here.
I had the pleasure and privilege of participating in the creation of the episode of this new PBS series about Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart.” You can find more thoughts about the book in my introduction to the Everyman edition. And this year’s Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for an artist “who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life” will be awarded to him on October 27, 2010, in New York City. “Da alü, Chinualumogu!”
Here is a short video, made by the PEN American Center, of four writers, talking about why it would not be a good idea to develop a treaty urging states to criminalize defamation of religions. What we urge, instead, is the sustenance of respectful dialogue between people of all faiths and none. The writers are Ariel Dorfman (b. Argentina), Azar Nafis (b. Iran), Wole Soyinka (b. Nigeria), and me.
For more information on the PEN International Campaign against moves to develop such a treaty go here.
The amazing Rex How of Locus Publications, has bought the rights to a Taiwanese edition of “The Honor code.” Chinese-language readers will now have access to a book in which China’s history is central. The German edition, from Beck, should be out some time not too far off … Germany being a country where honor is still something you can defend in the courts.
Wonderful news! Liu Xiaobo, our PEN International colleague, has just won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. When I nominated him, along with a number of others including Vaclav Havel, in January, I thought we might have to keep nominating him for a number of years. This is a great day for China, even though many in the regime won’t see it that way. For more on this see the PEN American Center website.
I’ve just had the extremely rewarding experience of attending my first PEN International Congress, this time in Tokyo as guest of the very generous Japanese PEN Club. It is very exhilarating to feel part of a global community of writers and intellectuals committed to free expression and cultural exchange. The most moving moment was the (of course, unanimous) vote to admit the new Cambodian PEN Center. A country whose writers were murdered alongside millions of their fellow citizens is returning to the global conversation in a big way. And the PEN Center is needed because the current government is, alas, an enemy of free expression. Also rewarding to meet with members of the Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPPC), whose former President Liu Xiaobo we (and many others) nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. I also had the honor of speaking about him on a panel organized by ICPC. (You can see my comments here.) We’ll see what happens with that on October 8 2010. Stay tuned!
I had a wonderful visit at Berea College, where I talked to a number of students groups, had a fine dinner with the President and some of the faculty, and then gave the Convocation lecture. I was very honored that they decided to give me an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters at the same time; something, I was told, they had previously done for the Dalai Lama!
I am delighted that Yilin Press, in Nanjing, has bought the rights to do a simplified Chinese edition of The Ethics of Identity.
I’m delighted to have been honored with Princeton University’s Howard T. Behrman Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities. It was a particular pleasure to share it with my friend and colleague Leonard Barkan.