The Believer Hosts a Literary Variety Show at the PEN Fest


With faith-based fanaticism and initiatives breeding violence and ignorance in the East and West, as well as globalization threatening to render culture-specific traditions and moralities irrelevant, the PEN American Center recognizes the consequence of faith and reason and makes their tense coexistence the theme of this year’s World Voices festival, from April 25 to 30. Orhan Pamuk (making his first visit to the United States since being charged at home with insulting Turkish identity), Toni Morrison, Zadie Smith, and Chinua Achebe are just a few of the eminent writers on hand to discuss the role of literature in this timeworn conflict. And on Saturday night, The Believer promises to lighten the gravitas of the festival—not to the frivolity of funny ha-ha but to the titillation of funny hmm—with a literary variety show. Emceed by writer and Daily Show regular John Hodgman, the evening offers readings by Rodrigo Fresán, Etgar Keret, Yiyun Li, Helen Oyeyemi, Dubravka Ugresic, and festival president Salman Rushdie; a conversation between artist Matthew Ritchie and novelist Ben Marcus; a panel called “The Secret Life of Secrets”; an excerpt of a Japanese sitcom dubbed over by Daniel Handler (a/k/a Lemony Snicket) and Jon Stewart; as well as some surprise guests.