Writers from 80 PEN Centres from across the globe gather in Bishkek for the annual PEN International Congress


September 26, 2014

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Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan – Over 200 delegates and PEN members will gather in Bishkek next week for the 80th PEN International Congress, bringing together prominent writers, journalists and poets from across the globe including Canadian writer Yann Martel, Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen, Ukrainian novelist Andrei Kurkov, Argentinean novelist and translator Carlos Gamerro, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović and Kazakh poet Olzhas Suleimenov in Kyrgyzstan’s capital city.

The annual PEN International Congress – now in its 80th year – is an opportunity for leading and emerging contemporary literary voices to meet and discuss pressing threats to freedom of expression – often engaging with critical periods in history –  debate, exchange ideas and stories.

‘This is the first time that PEN will bring writers from around the world together in Central Asia.  This region, lying on the edges of Russia and China, is also faced by important political and social issues.  We are gathering where our presence can make a difference.’ – John Ralston Saul, PEN International President.

Themed ‘My language, my story, my freedom’, this year’s Congress will provide a platform for writers from the region and across the globe to discuss regional literature, linguistic rights and the interlinked roles of literature, journalism and freedom of expression.

‘The 80th PEN Congress is a great opportunity for Kyrgyz writers to share their voice and experience with the international literary community, and by doing so enrich the world’s understanding of Kyrgyzstan.Dalmira Tilepbergenova, President of the Central Asian PEN Centre.

Panel discussions will focus on universal linguistic rights and ethno-linguistic diversity, violence and propaganda and literary traditions, featuring speakers such as Dunja Mijatović, The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media and Russian and American journalist and writer Masha Gessen.

Hosted by the Central Asian PEN Centre, this year’s Congress will consist of literary events and  the presentation of the second PEN International/New Voices Award. The award, launched in 2013, encourages young and unpublished writers from countries in which PEN operates to submit new work. PEN writers will also visit schools and universities to talk to students about the relationship between literature and freedom of expression.

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