170 writers from 51 countries in just six days

Tirelessly working in defense of writers and freedom of expression around the world, the PEN American Center (which is currently campaigning for the release of over three dozen writers in Chinese prisons before the start of the Olympic Games) returns with its fourth annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature. Bringing together an impressive lineup of writers—including A.M. Homes, Ian McEwan, Rick Moody, Annie Proulx, and Salman Rushdie—the week-long literary extravaganza promises a fascinating program of talks, panels, readings, short films, and performances on this year’s theme: “Public Lives/Private Lives.” Highlights include tonight’s discussion, “Crisis Darfur,” with Mia Farrow and journalist Bernard-Henri Lévy, and May 4’s lecture by Umberto Eco, “On the Advantages of Fiction for Life and Death,” which will be followed by a conversation with New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik. Starts today, through May 4, check for schedule, venues, and ticket information ANGELA ASHMAN



The next generation hits the stage

Where would the dance world be without its next generation of brilliant dancers bidding fair to be the next Baryshnikov, Nijinsky, or Pavlova? The 1-2-3 Festival takes three of the city’s top ballet companies and hands over the stage to their junior troupes. Tonight, the fanciful youths of Ailey II, ABT II, and Taylor 2 demonstrate why they’re the next constellation of fiery talents to watch out for as they perform various repertoire works. And the opening-night gala offers a chance to see all three companies doing what they do best. At 7:30, through May 11, Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, 212-242-0800, $38–$50 KEISHA FRANKLIN