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Monthly letter from PEN International President

PEN International President | 12 October 2011

Dear friends, Dear PEN members,

Those of you who were in Belgrade have had some time to report to your members. And all of you have received a fast, preliminary report from our Executive Director, Laura McVeigh – a very good new initiative. The cleared up resolutions have also gone out to you – again a new emphasis on getting action documents to you fast.

It was a very successful Congress, thanks to the incredible work of Serbian PEN. For those of you who were not in Belgrade, here are a few highlights:

Immediately after the Congress, the Board, the Committee Chairs and the senior staff held their retreat at Novi Sad. For once we weren’t struggling to hear each other over bad phone lines. We missed Mohamed Magani, who had just retired. We welcomed back Yang Lian, who was re-elected in Belgrade, and we welcomed Sylvestre Clancier who had been elected by the Assembly. Twenty four hours of working together was incredibly valuable and we will try to do it again in late spring/early summer.

Immediately after the retreat, I went to the Gothenburg Book Fair to take part in an unacceptable ceremony – the 10th anniversary of Dawit Isaak’s imprisonment with his colleagues in Eritrea, many of whom have died in what amounts to a death camp. With two Nobel laureates – our former president, Mario Vargas Llosa and Herta Müller – alongside Peter Englund, the Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, and Ola Larsmo, the President of Swedish PEN, we launched a new Eritrean campaign. I then met with some Swedish publishers who have joined the PEN International Publishers Circle, and then with Finnish Publishers, who we hope will join

Enough! This is very long, but a lot had happened.

Best wishes to you all,

John Ralston Saul

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