Japan Pen Hosts 76th Congress, Tokyo/Kyoto
The 76th PEN Congress, hosted by the Japan PEN Club, was a resounding success. Bigger, more inclusive, more wide-ranging in its concerns – this Congress sets a benchmark. The thoughtfulness and efficiency of all Japan PEN Club planners, staff, and volunteers were remarkable.
And to top it all off, Takeaki Hori was elected as International Secretary – which will bring a new focus on Asia: http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/
Find more on the Congress: Pen Congress: Leading Writers Unite for Free Expression.
For PEN Quebec. (Check out that nifty logo!)
Graeme Gibson arrived earlier and took part in the Environmental Justice seminar as part of the pre-Congress Literary Forum.
I arrived on September 25th, in time to give one of the keynote addresses at the opening ceremony – the other was given by Gao Xingjian of China.
The program was huge and diverse, and everyone worked very hard, on such matters as Writers in Prison and PEN resolutions. Increasing threats to freedom of expression – worldwide – were in the spotlight.
There were many workshops, including one on Manga and one on Childrens’ Literature.
Woven into it were some wonderful Japanese touches: the Amami Island drummers and Traditional Arts singers who entertained at the opening event, and the play “Letters from Water” (Hisashi Inoue); the Noh Theatre musicians; the two Sumo Wrestling stars, one of whom sang a traditional Sumo song; the traditional dancers who got a number of us to join in…
I did a number of interviews, in particular one with Jiro Asada, the very well-known Japanese writer.
I also did an on-stage conversation with Takashi Atoda, the President of Japan PEN and one with Ayako Sato (one of my translators, an old friend, and crucial to The Year of the Flood Japanese events) for Subaru, a well-known literary magazine.
The last event of the Congress was held in Kyoto – “Asia on Screen,” with panelists Christine Hakim (Indonesia), Vikas Swarup (India), Masahiro Shinoda (Japan), and co-ordinator Tadao Sato. All discussed the changes taking place in Asian film-making today.
Delegates then had a day and a half to explore Kyoto, with the help of their generous Japanese hosts. And on the way back, they had a rare view of Mount Fuji, with a lucky cloud halo on it…