Tokyo PEN International Congress

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!