Upcoming event explores taboos, desire and disgust

In a joint event, English PEN and Free Word will explore the private spaces that women carve out for themselves with three writers from Colombia, Singapore and Pakistan, all of whom have made adolescence the focus point of their recent work.

Sharlene Teo‘s celebrated debut novel Ponti is a portrayal of the loneliness of teenagehood, of friendship, obsession and film stars in Singapore. In Margarita García Robayo‘s collection Fish Soup (transl. by Charlotte Coombe), young female protagonists want nothing more than to escape their conservative, coastal town in Colombia. Sarvat Hasin‘s latest collection You Can’t Go Home Again focuses on a group of Karachi teenagers after one of them goes missing.

Sharlene, Margarita and Sarvat were all featured on PEN Transmissions, our new zine for international writing.

Join us to discuss adolescence and bodies, horror and faith, Pakistan, Singapore, Colombia and London, fun and fear, and how to turn the private lives of teenage girls public – in fictional form.

Taboos: Desire and Disgust, 30 October, 6.30-9pm, Free Word Centre. Find out more and book tickets here.

This event is organised by English PEN and Free Word as part of This Is Private.


Want to catch up with past issues of PEN Transmissions? Start here:

Sharlene Teo on Singapore: ‘I experience a double estrangement writing in English and residing in the UK, the site of imperialist, colonizing power, yet I can’t escape that I am estranged of my own volition.’

Margarita García Robayo on being a teenage girl: ‘We grew up fearful and confused. But we grew up and, among other things, growing up means gaining independence. As you do that, you begin to write your own story that eventually superimposes itself on the one of your upbringing.’

Sarvat Hasin on secrets: ‘In a sense all art is based on secrets, on things hidden behind the curtain. When I read a friend’s novel or poetry, I can sometimes glimpse behind the top layers — see the person in their life who inspired a certain turn of phrase.’

PEN Transmissions is supported by the Booker Foundation.

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