Celebrating Nelson Mandela: His Letters, His Legacy

A Czech Dreambook: Dissent as an Everyday Experience

Free Word, Farringdon Rd, London, EC1R 3GA
7pm, 20 February 2020

It’s 1979 in Communist Czechoslovakia and the banned writer Ludvík Vaculík – whose anti-regime manifesto was used by the Soviet Union as a pretext for invading Czechoslovakia – has writer’s block. He begins to keep a diary ‘about things, people and events.’ The result is A Czech Dreambook, a unique mixture of diary, dream journal and outright fiction.

Join the Czech Centre London and English PEN as Gerald Turner, Vaculík’s translator, Daňa Horáková, former dissident writer, and Jonathan Bolton, author of Worlds of Dissent, discuss Vaculík’s compelling portrait of dissident life, literary testimony in times of oppression, and the role of women in dissent. Award-winning editor of Index on Censorship magazine Rachael Jolley will be chairing the conversation.

Tickets are £6 / £4 concessions, including a drink


English PEN x Gower Street present: Hina Belitz, Meena

Kandasamy & Intan Paramaditha
6.30pm, 4 March 2020

In collaboration with Waterstones Gower Street, we are bringing together three writers challenging expectations of Asian women – and challenging the form of the novel itself.

Chaired by English PEN’s Hannah Trevarthen, authors Hina BelitzMeena Kandasamy and Intan Paramaditha will discuss their inventive uses of form, normalising Asian stories, and examine the freedom afforded by personal writing versus the expectations of Asian writers worldwide.

Hina Belitz
’s feel-good novel To Lahore, With Love (Headline) follows Irish-Pakistani Addy as she unearths a family secret and grapples with two sides of her upbringing. Hina is passionate about normalising Asian stories – especially within the women’s fiction sphere – and breaking out of existing common misconceptions.

Meena Kandasamy’s experimental novella Exquisite Cadavers (Atlantic) challenges the form of the novel, with its energetic tale of modern love in a bustling urban capital and the conflicts that arise from clashing cultures. Her Women’s Prize-shortlisted When I Hit You presents a woman in contemporary Indian society.

Indonesian writer Intan Paramaditha’s ingenious and unusual novel The Wandering (VINTAGE) – through which the reader chooses their own story –  the highs and lows of global nomadism, the politics and privileges of travel and desire, and the freedoms and limitations of the choices we make.

Join them for readings, discussion, and audience Q&A.

Tickets are £10 / £8 Students and Plus cardholders, including a drink


English PEN Literary Salon at The London Book Fair 2020

London Book Fair, Olympia, London
10-12 March 2020

Join us for an exciting programme of events over three days, featuring authors such as Irenosen Okojie, Edna O’Brien and Cressida Cowell, plus many more. For the full programme of events, visit

The English PEN Literary Salon is open to all visitors of The London Book Fair.  It is located on level one of Olympia in the Grand Hall.


Displaced memories: recollection and exile

British Museum, London, WC1B 3DG

18:30 – 20:00, 20 March 2020

Presented in collaboration with the British Museum and English PEN.

What role does memory play when writing about loss, exile and displacement?

Staged in relation to the acclaimed installation library of exile, by British artist and author Edmund de Waal, this panel discussion explores the role of memory in writing about exile and displacement.

Joining Edmund de Waal guest speakers include award-winning poet Kayo Chingonyi, Chilean novelist Alia Trabucco Zerán and British Palestinian fiction-writer Selma Debbagh.


Memorial service for Raficq Abdulla

St Peter’s Church, Black Lion Lane, Hammersmith, W6 9BE
6.45pm, 19 March 2020

A passionate poet, essayist and broadcaster, Raficq Abdulla was also a valued and dedicated supporter of English PEN. A Trustee of many years, Raficq made valuable contributions to many different aspects of PEN’s work, including through his role on the Management Committee and his involvement with our Writers in Translation Committee. In 2014, Raficq took on the role Acting President, guiding the organisation through a period of transition with considerable skill, wisdom and energy. Raficq was a generous colleague and friend and will be greatly missed by us all.

Read tributes to Raficq here

English PEN are honoured to be joining Raficq’s family and friends to host a memorial service on Thursday 19 March. Please join us at St Peter’s Church, Black Lion Lane, Hammersmith, W6 9BE. Refreshments will be served from 6.45pm and the programme will run from 7.30 – 9.30pm (no interval). All welcome.