Literary heavyweights shooting their wads
Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Franzen, Ha Jin, E. L. Doctorow, Wole Soyinka, Michael Ondaatje and other leading literary figures are in a new festival sponsored by PEN American Center. PEN World Voices: the New York Festival of International Literature, with programs heavily focused on international politics and current events, opens April 16 at NY Public Library with 3 events: a tribute to Cervantes's "Don Quixote" on its 400th anniversary; a conversation between Paul Auster and the Brazilian songwriter Chico Buarque; and a discussion called "Writing and Catastrophe," with François Bizot, Philip Gourevitch and others. The festival will last a week. Other participants are Rick Moody, Gish Jen, José Manuel Prieto, Gary Shteyngart, Nuruddin Farah and Elena Poniatowska. Salman Rushdie, PEN president, said the festival "embodies PEN's belief that writers can help to mediate cultural and political differences and widen this country's field of vision in the world." Widen this country's field of vision? Good luck.