“PEN has been instrumental in defending truth and facts. In fact, no other organization has done more to inoculate Americans against disinformation. No other organization has done more to protect the voices that the forces of racism and hatred seek to silence.” —Stephen King
One hundred years of protecting freedom of expression–literature knows no frontiers
What was PEN’s role in shaping the very concept of human rights even before it was adopted by the United Nations in 1948? How did PEN develop fundamental ideas on free speech as well as the equality of languages and literatures?
This book tells the extraordinary story of how writers from around the world placed the celebration of literature and the defense of free speech at the center of humanity’s struggle against repression and terror. The extraordinary writers who have been PEN cases is a history of bravery and include, Federico García Lorca, Stefan Zweig, Musine Kokalari, Wole Soyinka, Salman Rushdie, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Anna Politkovskaya, Hrant Dink, Svetlana Alexievich, and many others.
PEN was founded in London in 1921 to promote friendship, intellectual co-operation, and exchange between writers from around the world. It has grown into a worldwide network of writers, a community extended to more than 100 countries who for 100 years has worked to celebrate all literatures without exception and protect freedom of expression.
Today, PEN plays a unique part in the defense of free expression, celebration of literary excellence, amplification of marginalized voices, and the fostering of dialogue across political and ideological boundaries.
“My respect for this organization has no borders … PEN has been so fierce, so consistent and ferocious in its efforts that it is hard to ignore their worldwide impact.”
– Toni Morrison, Vice President of PEN
“I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory.”
– Harold Pinter, English PEN President and Literature Nobel 2005
“Freedom of expression is the foundation of human rights, the source of humanity, and the mother of truth. To strangle freedom of speech is to trample on human rights, stifle humanity, and suppress truth.”
– Liu Xiaobo, Independent Chinese PEN and Peace Nobel 2010
“I want you to know that your letters, which have rendered iron curtains meaningless and ineffective, have filled my two-steps’-long cell with resistance, resolve and hope...”
– Nedim Tu¨rfent, writing from a Turkish prison
“PEN has been instrumental in defending truth and facts. In fact, no other organization has done more to inoculate Americans against disinformation. No other organization has done more to protect the voices that the forces of racism and hatred seek to silence.”