Monday, July 14, 2008

PEN's Achebe Tribute Now Online

I went to this event at Town Hall last February and found it really inspiring. Chris Abani was so funny and charming, talking about how to use literature to lure women; Suheir Hammad was fierce as she read one of her own poems; Chimamanda Adichie did a great job of repping the newest generation of Nigerian voices, with stories of her childhood in Chinua Achebe's former house (!); Ha Jin enlightened me on the loaded choice of writing in English; Colum McCann made me want to grovel and be his student: "What gives off the deepest sparks is the democracy of story-telling."

And of course, softspoken Chinua Achebe brought down the house at the end, talking about the publication (almost thwarted by a typist) of THINGS FALL APART, and expressing gratitude to his readers .

The place was packed. The line outside was long. It was one of those moments where I loved New York, claustrophobia and all. Now the computerized world can listen in, with added elbow room and a pause button. I look forward to listening again.

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