Books: Independent States of Mind

In New York City, International PEN generates heat and light

There are more cheerful places to hold a conference than New York City in mid-January. The winter's coldest weather to date arrived with the delegates and guests. Central Park was a dismal filigree of naked branches; from hotel windows, the frozen ponds looked like the eyes of dead fish. And then there was the theme of the 48th annual congress of International PEN: "The Writer's Imagination and the Imagination of the State." PEN, founded in 1921, is an organization of poets, playwrights, essayists, editors and novelists. Almost any of its 10,000 members worldwide, it would seem, could invent a more inviting...

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