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IWP Panel Series: Should a Writer Speak for "The Universal"?

Join the International Writing Program for this weekly panel discussion series at the Iowa City Public Library. Free pizza and refreshments served.

On September 6, Berlin’s main literary festival will hold its annual worldwide reading, this time in support of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. How can writers and cultural institutions best claim space for, and remain vigilant on issues of human rights? And, should they—or should they instead support more local, specific, culturally-set priorities? How attached are you to (the idea of) universal values? 

This panel will feature the International Writing Program Fall Residents Hajar Bali, Panashe Chigumadzi, Okky Madasari, Wipas Srithong, and Julienne van Loon.

Hajar Bali (playwright, fiction writer, poet; Algeria) was, until 2016, a professor of mathematics at the University of Sciences and Technology in Algiers. Her collection of stage plays, Rêve et vol d’oiseaux [Dream and Birdflight] appeared in 2010; a collection of stories, Trop tard, in 2014. She has held writing residencies in France and Switzerland, and is now the general secretary of the L’Imago Cultural Association in Algiers. Her participation is made possible by an anonymous gift to the IWP.

Panashe Chigumadzi (novelist, essayist; South Africa/Zimbabwe) is the author of the novel Sweet Medicine, which won the 2016 K. Sello Duiker Literary Award; a short story, “Small Deaths,” was nominated for the 2016 Pushcart Literary Prize. She is the founding editor of Vanguard Magazine, a platform for black women in post-apartheid South Africa. In 2016, she curated Soweto’s Abantu Book Festival for black readers and writers in the country’s largest township. She participates courtesy of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

Okky Madasari (novelist; Indonesia) is the founder and director of the ASEAN Literary Festival. In 2012, her novel The Outcast, about an Islamic sect facing persecution by mainstream religion, received the Khatulistiwa Literary Award. The Years of the Voiceless (2010) is about struggle for justice and freedom while questioning the authority of religion; 86 (2011) addresses corruption in Indonesia; Bound (2015) tells about a life of a transgender in a religiously conservative society. She participates courtesy of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

Wipas Srithong วิภาส ศรีทอง (fiction writer; Thailand) has published three novels, many short stories, and collections of English-language and concrete poetry. His debut novel Kon Krae [The Dwarf] won the 2012 S.E.A. Write Award for Novels; his subsequent two novels were long- and short-listed for it. His stories have won the Kukrij Pramote and P.E.N (Thailand) awards. He participates courtesy of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

Julienne van Loon (novelist, essayist; Australia) is a research fellow at non/fictionLab of RMIT University in Melbourne. She won the Australian/Vogel’s Award and in 2005 was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize First Book Award for Road Story. Her work, including the recent novel Harmless, has strong creative and cultural connection to Asia, particularly China. Her forthcoming collection The Thinking Woman includes interviews with leading women from across the globe. Her participation is made possible by the Paul and Hualing Engle Fund.

Friday, September 15, 2017 at 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Iowa City Public Library, Meeting Room A
123 S. Linn St., Iowa City, IA

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