Why the hell not

Press release of September 28th, 2023
Why the hell not: PEN Berlin now member of PEN International

Some great news: PEN Berlin has officially become a member of the international PEN family!

At this year’s General Assembly, held via videoconference from Tuesday to Thursday, PEN Berlin received the necessary two-thirds majority of votes cast.

»We are thrilled«, said Eva Menasse, spokesperson for PEN Berlin. »This is also a recognition of our work over the past 15 months – supporting persecuted authors as well as our commitment to freedom of speech, press and art. We thank the board and office of PEN International, especially Tanja Tuma, Beatrice Lamwaka, Danson Kahyana, President Burhan Sönmez and the wonderful Olha Mukha. And we thank the PEN centres around the world, from the Ugandan to the Ukrainian, from the US-American to the Slovenian to the Kurdish PEN, for their trust.«

Founded in June of last year, PEN Berlin already has nearly 600 members – writers, poets, publicists, translators, journalists, publishers and other colleagues in the literary field.

More than 70 percent of them have never belonged to another PEN centre, a quarter were not born in Germany, and some were once on the PEN International Case List. The proportion of women has risen from 40.3 to 47.3 percent since its founding. The average age has remained steady at 53.1 years, thanks to many younger members joining.

»The admission process at PEN International was, on the whole, conducted in a friendly and constructive atmosphere,« said spokesperson Deniz Yücel. Referring to the logo, which previously read »Aspiring to become a member of PEN International«, he added: »We almost wanted to keep the first part – ›Aspiring to become‹. That would be a nice motto. But we already have one: ›We stand by our word‹. And you don’t become a PEN with logos and stamps; you become a PEN by doing PEN.«

We take this opportunity to hint at an event: On October 10, writer Yassin Al-Haj Saleh and philosopher Susan Neiman – both members of PEN Berlin – will discuss »Hannah Arendt in Syria« at the Literaturhaus Berlin. (7 pm, hosted by Eva Menasse, more information here.)

And for the Frankfurt Book Fair, we have put together an extensive program with Claudia Roth, Thea Dorn, Julia Franck, Michel Friedman, Dmitry Glukhovsky, Uroš Prah, and Mithu Sanyal, among others. Details can be found here.

PEN BERLIN. Wir stand by our word.

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