Literature Program

Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.


PEN World Voices, Talking Leaves…Books, Hallwalls, & Just Buffalo present

Najat El Hachmi, Carsten Jensen, Marcelo Figueras


Najat El Hachmi Najat El Hachmi (born in Morocco on July 2, 1979) is a Catalan writer. At the age of 8 she immigrated with her family to Catalonia, Spain. El Hachmi studied Arab literature at the University of Barcelona and currently resides in Granollers. She began writing when she was twelve years old and has continued ever since, first as entertainment, and later as a means to express concerns or to reflect and re-create her own reality, in the (at least) two cultures to which she belongs.

Her first book, Jo també sóc catalana (I too am Catalan, 2004), was strictly autobiographical, dealing with the issue of identity, and the growth of her sense of belonging to her new country. In 2005, she participated in an event sponsored by the European Institute of the Mediterranean, along with other Catalan writers of foreign descent, including Matthew Tree, Salah Jamal, Laila Karrouch and Mohamed Chaib. During the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2007, where Catalan culture was the featured guest of honour, she traveled to various German cities to participate in conferences in which she offered her perspective on contemporary Catalan literature. El Hachmi has made frequent appearances in the media, including Catalunya Radio, and the newspaper Vanguardia.

In 2008, she won the most prestigious award in Catalan letters, the Ramon Llull prize, for her novel L'últim patriarca (The Last Patriarch). The novel tells the story of a Moroccan who immigrates to Catalonia, a sometimes despotic patriarch who enters into conflict with his daughter, who breaks with the traditional values of the old country to adapt to the new, modern culture in which she finds herself.

Carsten Jensen Carsten Jensen has worked as a literary critic and a journalist, reporting from China, Cambodia, Latin America, the Pacific Islands, and Afghanistan. His previous books are I Have Seen the World Begin and Earth in the Mouth.

Marcelo Figueras Screenwriter, filmmaker, and journalist Marcelo Figueras was born in 1962 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His first novel, El Muchacho Peronista, was published in 1992. This novel and the ones that followed (El espía del tiempo, La batalla del calentamiento, Aquarium) have been or are being translated into many languages in addition to English: German, French, Russian, Hebrew, Polish, Turkish, and Dutch.

Figueras's first movie as a screenwriter, Plata Quemada, was one of the top 10 films of the year 2000 according to Kenneth Turan of the L. A. Times. Figueras then wrote Kamchatka (2002), adapting his own novel. The movie won several prizes, including People's Favorite (Vancouver Festival) and Best Script (La Habana). Other movies as screenwriter: Rosario Tijeras (2005, a coproduction with Colombia that broke ticket sales records in that country) and Las Viudas de los Jueves (2009).

As a journalist, Figueras has travelled to Israel and Palestine to write about the Second Intifada in 2000, the source of the experiences that later illuminated his novel Aquarium. He also wrote the story of the Equipo Argentino de Antropología Forense, the team of forensic anthropologist that identified the bodies of many desaparecidos during the last military dictatorship (1976-1983) and also Che Guevara's remains. He has interviewed many artists for the Argentinian media, from Martin Scorsese, Arthur Miller, Richard Price, Paul McCartney, and Woody Allen to Julia Roberts and Madonna.

About PEN World Voices:

  • Founded by Salman Rushdie in 2005, who continues to serve as its chair;
  • Begun to combat cultural isolationism and to encourage discourse between US and the international community;
  • The PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature is the only literary festival in the US (as opposed to book fairs with vendors);
  • Annually, more than 150 international writers from across the globe participate in conversations, readings, performances, and panels at these Festival events;
  • Past participants include Nadine Gordimer, Toni Morrison, Orhan Pamuk, Umberto Eco, Ian McEwan, Natalie Merchant, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, Mario Vargas Llosa, Roberto Saviano, Muriel Barbery, & Marlene van Nierkerk;
  • What distinguishes PEN World Voices Literary Festival from Edinburgh, Berlin, Jaipur and other such festivals is PEN's human rights mission—it's the only one with a political edge.
  • In 2010, the Festival introduced its Festival Tour, which brings the great translated literature that is showcased at the World Voices Festival to audiences all over the U.S., including here to Buffalo.
2011 Festival Details
  • Favorite events at the Festival include: the PEN Translation Slam, the Arthur Miller Lecture, which will be delivered by Wole Soyinka), our Festival Moth event, which will be hosted by Salman Rushdie.
  • In 2011 the Festival will find a new home on the High Line. This new park will be the literal and metaphorical spine of the Festival, with events happening on and in venues around the High Line.
  • PEN web site ( have access to event schedules, author biographies, ticketing and program information, and original poems, essays, and fiction written by Festival authors exclusively for PEN.
  • Free podcasts are available via PEN's site and Apple's iTunes online music store. Select events will also be streamed.
About PEN
PEN American Center was founded in 1922 and is the largest of the 144 PEN centers in 101 countries. With former presidents such as Arthur Miller, Norman Mailer, Susan Sontag, and Salman Rushdie, PEN American Center has remained a writer-centered organization in which members play a leading role. PEN China President Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner, is our most recent example of our members leading the forefront of the struggle to oppose censorship and defend writers.

Some publications related to this event:
April and May, 2011 - 2011