In Person

May 8, 2009

PEN World Voices Report: The Neo-Keynsian Smackdown 1


The Met Museum’s Rogers Auditorium last Thursday night resembled one of Rush Limbaugh’s paranoid fantasies come to life; if a bomb had gone off, much of the braintrust of American liberalism would have been wiped out. To explore “The Economic Crisis and How to Deal With It,” The New York Review of Books had convened […]

May 7, 2009

PEN World Voices Report: The Strange Beauty of Andrey Platonov 0


It was raining last Thursday (because it is always raining in New York) when I went to the CUNY Graduate Center to hear a panel called “Language in New Forms: The Work of Andrey Platonov.” I’m glad I braved the weather, however. The panel featured four of the most mellifluous voices in Anglo-American letters – […]

April 2, 2009

Highlights from the PEN World Voices Schedule 0


Readings and panel discussions generally serve as excuses to go see our favorite writers in person. By contrast, the great virtue of the PEN World Voices Festival is the range of discoveries it affords. Now in its fifth year, the festival brings writers from all over the globe to Manhattan for a series of mostly […]

March 11, 2009

Context is everything: Lit City in Toronto 3


Millions readers in the Toronto area should check out the Lit City exhibit at the Market Gallery (second floor of the St. Lawrence Market, on now through the spring, free). As part of the ongoing festivities marking Toronto’s 175th birthday, the Market Gallery, occupying a room that served as council chambers in the mid-late 1800s, […]

November 25, 2008

The Immigrant Factor: Junot Díaz and Rawi Hage in conversation 0


Their personalities couldn’t be more different. Junot Díaz: casually amiable, chatty; Rawi Hage: quietly reflective, a bit reserved. Actually, not a bad double-act, as they seem to complement each other. And in addition to each desperately trying to catch his breath after a whirlwind year – Díaz fresh from countless accolades for his novel The […]

November 10, 2008

Sarah Vowell’s Arcane Americana Road-Show 3


When Sarah Vowell comes to town, she brings with her the oddest bunch of Puritans you’ve ever met. Sometimes cruel, often endearing, highly literate (for a pre-Enlightenment society), occasionally confounding in their contradictions, the Puritans who settled the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 1630s come to life in Vowell’s latest historical slice of arcane Americana. […]

October 20, 2008

Speakers and the Spoken-To 0


A streetcar along the lake brings you to a low-rise white building where artists and artisans further their craft. It’s evening, somewhat deserted, but turn down one hallway and the tools of their trade remain in public view. Turn another corner and photographic art lines the walls. In a secluded room: a sea of café […]

October 16, 2008

Umberto Eco vs. Junot Díaz 1


This Guest post comes from Laurie Anderson. Laurie is a publicity assistant for a large Southern university. A Performance Comparison, Not a Literary Critique Umberto Eco gave three free lectures at Emory University in Atlanta October 5 through 7, and also did a reading and signing. All three lectures will be released in print form […]

October 14, 2008

Haruki Murakami in Berkeley 4


This past weekend, Haruki Murakami appeared at U.C. Berkeley’s Zellerbach Auditorium for a reading of his short stories and a wide-ranging conversation about his work and life. Despite my disappointment with his recent work, Murakami ranks as one of my favorite writers, and it was a pleasure to finally see the notoriously shy writer in […]

June 2, 2008

BEA: Dispatches from LA 5


All over Book Expo America, the country’s largest book industry trade show, were signs of the major trends in publishing and bookselling. Environmentalism was the order of the day, and everywhere I went there were signs of the industry “going green.” At the American Booksellers Association’s annual Day of Education, Ed Begley Jr. gave the […]