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Remembering György Konrád

Monday 16 September 2019 - 4:49pm

Gyorgy Konrad

PEN International and the PEN community mourns the death of György Konrád - writer, activist, and former President of PEN International.

Born in east Hungary's Berettyóújfalu in 1933, Konrád and his sister survived the war in a Swiss-protected safe house in Budapest. Konrád was a dissident of major standing during the country's period of communist rule. He worked as an editor and wrote on social studies. Konrád was a fierce champion of individual freedoms and faced a publication ban by the Hungarian government.

Konrád, 86, was the President of PEN International from 1990 to 1993. Following his tenure at PEN, he became President of Berlin’s Academy of Arts. He received awards for both his activism and his literary works.

He is survived by his wife and five children.

'I had the good fortune of meeting Gyorgy Könrad at his home in Budapest while on a PEN mission to Hungary in 2018. He was deeply troubled about the state of democracy in his country. He also spoke about the time he was President of PEN International and how he’d witnessed the reunification of Germany and the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. His voice in defence of freedom of expression will be missed in PEN, in Hungary and throughout the world.' - Jennifer Clement, President of PEN International.

'I will always remember Gyorgy Könrád welcoming with joy Salman Rushdie to the PEN Congress in Santiago de Compostela in 1993 with these words: "You represent all writers around the world who have been punished, sentenced, even to death, because they wrote what they wrote." Könrád was deeply committed to the mission of PEN to defend the freedom of expression of all writers, without exception.' – Carles Torner, PEN International Executive Director