Writers Under Siege: Voices of Freedom from Around the World

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The freedom to write is under threat today throughout the world, with more than 1,000 writers, journalists, and publishers known to be imprisoned or persecuted in more than 100 countries. Writers Under Siege bears witness to the power and danger of the pen, and to the powerful longing for the right to use it without fear. Collected here are fifty contributions by writers who have paid dearly for the privilege of writing. Some have been tortured; some have been killed. All understand the cost of speaking up and speaking out.

This book was prepared by PEN, which is both the world’s oldest human rights organization and the oldest international literary organization. It commemorates PEN’s eighty-fifth anniversary and celebrates PEN’s work by giving voice to persecuted writers from around the globe. The contributors come from more than twenty countries, from Belarus to Zimbabwe. Many are well-known in the English-speaking world, including Orhan Pamuk, from Turkey, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature; Harold Pinter, from England, winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature; Aung San Suu Kyi, from Burma, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize; and Anna Politkovskaya, from Russia, the noted journalist and author who was murdered in 2006, shortly after writing the piece that appears in this collection. Other contributors are less famous, perhaps, but their contributions are no less compelling. In prose and poetry, in fiction and non-fiction, they reveal the personal consequences of war, conflict, terrorism, and authoritarianism.

While the pieces collected here differ in their settings and their subjects, all are riveting. Grouped into four sections — Prison, Death, Asylum, and The Freedom to Write — they call our attention to the fundamental humanity we share and highlight the inhumanity we can so easily condone.

Contributors include: Chris Abani, Angel Cuadra Landrove, Asiye Guzel, Augusto Ernesto Llosa Giraldo, Mamadali Makhmudov, Orhan Pamuk, Harold Pinter, Anna Politkovskaya, Aung San Suu Kyi, Thich Tue Sy, Gai Tho, and Ken Saro-Wiwa.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

The human rights/literary organization PEN has a history of working on the behalf of writers who have suffered government persecution. This book commemorating the organization's 85th anniversary represents the work of 50 writers from more than 20 countries, most of whom have been persecuted, prosecuted, imprisoned, tortured, or killed as a result of their writing. Contributors include those well known in the English-speaking world-e.g., Nobel Prize winners Orhan Pamuk (Turkey) and Harold Pinter (England); Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma)-as well as less famous figures. Their poetry, stories, letters, book excerpts, and other short pieces, which vary in style, form, and content, are gathered into four sections: "Prison," "Death," "Exile," and "The Freedom To Write." The selections make clear that many countries not ordinarily thought of as authoritarian are nevertheless not really safe for free expression. A compelling and worthwhile purchase; recommended for all libraries.
—Denise J. Johnson

From the Publisher
“As an act of commemoration, as well as a sobering reminder of the world in which writers are frequently — and all too easily—silenced, this is an exceptional anthology.”
-Publishers Weekly
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814767436
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2007
  • Series: Pen Anthology Ser.
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 275
  • Product dimensions: 6.62 (w) x 7.74 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Lucy Popescu has worked with PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee for more than fifteen years. She writes a regular column for Literary Review.

Carole Seymour-Jones is Chair of PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee. She is the author of Painted Shadow: The Life of Vivienne Eliot, First Wife of T.S. Eliot.

Tom Stoppard is a playwright. Among his many plays are Arcadia and The Real Thing.

Tom Stoppard is a playwright. Among his many plays are Arcadia and The Real Thing.

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Table of Contents

Sir Tom Stoppard Foreword
Carole Seymour-Jones Introduction
Lucy Popescu A Note on Selections
Harold Pinter ‘Death’
Ken saro-Wiwa From his last television interview
Reza Baraheni
Jiang Qisheng
Ali al-Dumaini
Faraj ahmad Bayrakdar
Asiye Güzel
Augusto Ernesto Llosa Giraldo
Mamadali Makhmudov
Yndamiro Restano
Faraj Sarkohi
Angel Cuadra
Yury Bandazhevsky
Koigi wa Wamwere
José Revueltas
Shi Tao, China
Sihem Ben Sedrine
Javier Tuanama Valera
Grigory Pasko
Andrej Dynko
Thich Tue sy
Hwang Dae-Kwon
Khin Zaw Win
Ali Reza Jabari
Flora Brovina
Liu Jinsheng
Ken saro-Wiwa
Thiagarajah Selvanithy
Rakhim Esenov
Angel Cuadra
Akbar Ganji
Flora Brovina
Harry Wu
Chris Abani
Gai Tho
Raúl Rivero
Jean-Louis Ntadi
Mansur Muhammad Ahmad Rajih
Cheikh Kone
Taslima Nasrin
Chenjerai Hove
Anna Politkovskaya
Aung San Suu Kyi
Paul Kamara
Jiang Qisheng
Ma Thida
Hrank Dink
Hari Kunzru
Ken saro-Wiwa

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