PEN World Voices Festival - 1,000 Words: The Power of Visual Storytelling


"What can pictures provide that words cannot? Our panelists have all used pictures to tell challenging and compelling stories: Shaun Tan, from Australia, has imagined the experience of immigration in his wordless book The Arrival; Jonathan Ames, from the United States, has depicted the life of a failing writer in The Alcoholic; David Polonsky, from Israel, illustrated the horrors of the Israeli-Lebanon war in Waltz with Bashir; and Emmanuel Guibert, from France, has documented war in Afghanistan and in Europe in his graphic novels."

jonathan ames

"Jonathan Ames was born in New York City in 1964. He is the author of the graphic novel The Alcoholic, and the novels I Pass Like Night, The Extra Man, and Wake Up, Sir!, and the essay collections What's Not to Love?, My Less Than Secret Life, and I Love You More Than You Know. He is also the editor of Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs. Ames is the winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship and is a former columnist for New York Press. His next book, a collection of fiction and non-fiction, The Double Life is Twice As Good, will be published by Scribner in July 2009. Wake Up, Sir! and The Extra Man are in development as films, with Ames writing the screenplays. He also adapted What's Not to Love? as a TV special for the Showtime network and he played himself. He performs frequently as a storyteller and comedian and has been a recurring guest on The Late Show with David Letterman. He was a participant in the 2005 World Voices Festival. Jonathan Ames currently lives and works in New York City."

emmanuel guibert

"Emmanuel Guibert was born in Paris. He has created many works for children and adults, including the graphic novels Alan’s War: The Memoirs of G.I. Alan Cope, and, with Joann Sfar, the Sardine in Outer Space series and The Professor’s Daughter. Guibert’s most recent book is The Photographer, which has been translated around the world and will be published in the U.S. in paperback this May. It recounts the story of a Doctors Without Borders mission in Afghanistan through the eyes of a great photo-journalist, the late Didier Lefèvre."

david polonsky

"David Polonsky was born in Kiev in 1973, and his family immigrated to Israel in 1981. Polonsky graduated with honors from the prestigious Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem. His illustrations appear in all the leading Israeli newspapers and magazines, and his works in children’s book illustration have won many awards. Polonsky was also the art director and lead artist for the acclaimed animated film Waltz with Bashir, which won the Golden Globe award and was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Film category this year. He teaches illustration and animation in Bezalel Academy and in Shenkar School of Design. "

shaun tan

"Shaun Tan was born in Fremantle, Western Australia in 1974. He is the internationally acclaimed author and illustrator of The Lost Thing, The Red Tree, and the award-winning New York Times bestseller The Arrival. His most recent work Tales from Outer Suburbia, is an anthology of 15 short illustrated stories. In 2001, Tan won the Best Artist category at the World Fantasy Awards, and he is also the winner of the Children’s Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year Award for The Rabbits with John Marsden. He also has worked with Blue Sky Studios and Pixar, providing concept artwork for films. He lives in Australia. "

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PEN World Voices Festival - Readings from Around the Globe


"Mariken Jongman was born in Amsterdam in 1965, and studied history in Groningen, the Netherlands. She is a singer-songwriter, and since 1997, she has also acted and sung in youth-theater productions, for which she writes the scripts. Her debut novel for children, Rits, was published in Dutch in 2005, and in English translation in 2008. "


"Petina Gappah is a Zimbabwean writer who lives in Geneva where she works as a lawyer. She has law degrees from the University of Zimbabwe, Cambridge University, and the University of Graz. Her short fiction and essays have been published in eight countries. Her first book, An Elegy for Easterly, a story collection, will be published by Faber & Faber in April 2009 in the United Kingdom and in June 2009 in the United States. It will also appear in translation in six other countries. She is currently completing her first novel."


"Colm Tóibín was born in Enniscorthy, County Wexford in southeastern Ireland in 1955. He is the author of six novels including The Blackwater Lightship and The Master, both shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and the winner of a Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His new novel, Brooklyn, will be published in May. His nonfiction includes The Sign of the Cross and Love in a Dark Time. He writes frequently for such publications as The London Review of Books and the New York Review of Books. He was a fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at New York Public Library, and has taught at Stanford, Princeton, and American universities, as well as the New School in New York City. His books have been translated into 18 languages."


"Michael Ondaatje was born in Sri Lanka in 1943. He moved to England with his mother in 1954, and then to Canada in 1962. He is the author of many works of fiction, poetry, and memoir, including The English Patient, which won the Booker Prize in 1992, Running in the Family, and Coming Through Slaughter. He won the Governor General's Award for two of his poetry books, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid and There's a Trick with a Knife I'm Learning To Do. His most recent work is Divisadero, a novel. Ondaatje has won the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize, thePrix Medicis, the Giller Prize, and the Booker Prize. His memoir piece, "The Passions of Lalla," was featured in PEN America 4: Fact/Fiction and his conversation with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was featured in PEN America 7: World Voices. He currently resides in Toronto."

Descriptions from the Festival program.

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