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Board and Vice Presidents

Executive Board

The Board of PEN International is elected by PEN Centres. It consists of a group of individuals from across the globe committed to representing and championing the views of PEN International, who believe that our organisation can make a vital contribution to literature and freedom of expression.

Jennifer Clement

International President

Jennifer Clement

International President

Jennifer Clement is the President of PEN International and the first woman to be elected since the organization was founded in 1921. Under her leadership the groundbreaking PEN International Women’s Manifesto and The Democracy of the Imagination Manifesto were created.

Clement is the author the novels A True Story Based on Lies, The Poison That Fascinates, Prayers for the Stolen and Gun Love as well as several poetry books with introductions by Ramón Xirau and W.S. Merwin. Clement also wrote the acclaimed memoir Widow Basquiat on New York City in the early 1980’s and the painter Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Clement is the recipient of many awards including the Canongate Prize, Sara Curry Humanitarian Award, the Gran Prix des Lectrices Lyceenes de ELLE, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEA Fellowship and her books have twice been a New York Times Editor’s Choice Book. Clement is the recipient of a HIPGiver Honor, which is given to Latinos who have made exceptional contributions to their communities.

Prayers for the Stolen, on the stealing and trafficking of girls in Mexico, was both a PEN/Faulkner Prize and Femina Prize finalist and a New Statesman Book of the Year, picked by Kazuo Ishiguro. Her recent novel Gun Love is an Oprah Book Club Selection as well as being a National Book Award, Aspen Words Literary Prize finalist, and a New York Times Editor’s Choice Book. TIME magazine, among other publications, named it one of the top 10 books of the year. Clement’s books have been translated into more than 35 languages.

Upcoming movies include:

Gun Love directed by Julie Taymor and produced by Nick Wechsler and Chockstone Pictures partners Steve Schwartz and Paula Mae Schwartz as well as Lynn Hendee and Julie Taymor.

Prayers for the Stolen, directed by Tatiana Huezo (titled Noche de fuego) and produced by Nicolas Celis and Jim Stark at Pimienta Films.

Kätlin Kaldmaa

International Secretary

Kätlin Kaldmaa

International Secretary

Kätlin Kaldmaa is an Estonian poet, writer, translator and literary critic. She has published four collections of poetry, two books for children, an autobiographical work of non-fiction, and a novel. She has translated over 40 books into Estonian by authors such as Jeanette Winterson, Aphra Behn, Michael Ondaatje, Ali Smith, Goran Simić and Gabriel García Márquez. Her own poems have been translated into Arabic, English, Korean, Latin, Japanese, Russian, Slovenian, Turkish and others She is the President of Estonian PEN.

Eric Lax

Treasurer

Board Members

Iman Humaydan

Iman Humaydan

Iman Humaydan is a novelist, activist and founder of ARRAWI, a non-profit center for marginalized youth in Lebanon. Her novels B Mithl Beit, Mithl Beirut [B as in Beirut], Toot Barri [Wild Mulberries], Hayawat Okhra [Other Lives] and Khamsoun ghraman mena aljannah [Weight of Paradise] have been published in Arabic, French, German, English, Italian and Dutch. Her short stories, essays, and journalism have appeared in German, Swiss, French, and Arab newspapers and magazines. Humaydan co-wrote the screenplay for Chatti ya Deni [Here Comes The Rain], which won the first prize at the 2010 Dubai Film Festival, and the documentary film Asmahan, Une Diva Orientale, and edited the creative writing textbook Kitabat alkitabah (2010). She also edited Beirut Noir, which was published in 2015 by Akashic Books (NY). The writer serves as the co-founder of PEN Lebanon in 2012, and PEN Lebanon president since 2015. At present, Humaydan teaches creative writing in Paris 8 University in France.

Ola Larsmo

Burhan Sönmez

Burhan Sönmez

Burhan Sönmez is a prize-winning novelist. He is the author of three novels: North (2009), Sins and Innocents (2011) and İstanbul İstanbul (2015). His novels have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Burhan Sönmez was born in Turkey. He grew up speaking Turkish and Kurdish, then later moved to Istanbul where he worked for a time as a lawyer. He was member of Contemporary Lawyers Association (ÇHD), Human Rights Society (IHD) and a founder of TAKSAV (Foundation for Social Research, Culture and Art). He lived in Cambridge (UK) in exile for political reasons about ten years.

Burhan Sönmez lectured in Literary Theory and Novel at the METU (Middle East Technical University). He served as jury member for the Cevdet Kudret Literature Prize. He translated the poetry book of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake from English into Turkish.

He contributes various newspapers and magazines like the Guardian, la Repubblica, L’Unita, Die Zeit, BirGün, Guernica, and Electric Literature.

Ma Thida

Ma Thida

A surgeon, writer and political commentator, Thida spent 5½ years in prison in the 1990s for her activism. Ever since her release she has monitored and written on events in Burma, and, with the lifting of the military regime, is now the president of PEN Myanmar. In 2016 Ma Thida was awarded the first annual “Disturbing the Peace” award by the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation in New York on September 28.

Regula Venske

Regula Venske

Born in 1955, Regula Venske is a scholar, novelist and essayist and president of German PEN. She is a distinguished German writer best known for her crime fiction, but she also writes experimental prose and literary criticism and once in a while comes up with a poem. She wrote a thesis on the “construction and criticism of masculinity in contemporary German-language literature by women” and received her Ph. D. in 1988. She taught German literature at Hamburg University, the Free University of Berlin and Queen Mary College, London, and is regularly teaching creative writing both in schools as well as for adults. Regula Venske received a number of literary awards, including the Oldenburg Jugendbuchpreis, the German Crime-Writing Award (Deutscher Krimipreis) and the Lessing Scholarship of the City of Hamburg. She has been a member of German PEN since 1998 and has been elected General Secretary in May 2013.For more information, please see www.regulavenske.de.

Danson Kahyana

Danson Kahyana

Danson Sylvester Kahyana (PhD) is a Senior Lecturer in the Literature Department at Makerere University. He holds a PhD in Literature (Stellenbosch University), MA (Literature), PGDE, and BA (Makerere University). He has published creative work in anthologies like Dance the Guns to Silence (2005), Michael’s Eyes: The War against the Ugandan Child (2005), We Have Crossed Many Rivers: New Poetry from Africa (2012), and Wondering and Wanderings of Hearts (2017), and a children’s novel, Biira’s Success (2009). He is editor, Fire on the Mountain: Creative Work on the Obuhikira (2018), and co-editor (with Beatrice Lamwaka and Bob G. Kisiki) of As I Stood Dead Before the World: Creative Writing from Luzira (2018) and (with Edgar Nabutanyi and Dominica Dipio) of Discourse and Identities: Writing and Contemporary Eastern African Peripheral Subjectivities (2019). His scholarly work has appeared in journals like Journal of African Cultural Studies, Alternation, Matatu, Social Dynamics, and Africa Development. He is President, PEN International, Uganda Centre. He has the African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowship (2015-2016), the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship (2018-2019), and the British Institute in Eastern Africa Research grant (2019). He has also been nominated for the Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellowship (2020-2021).

David Francis

David Francis

David Francis, based in Los Angeles, spends part of each year back on his family’s farm in Australia. He is the author of The Great Inland Sea, published to acclaim in seven countries, and Stray Dog Winter, Book of the Year in The Advocate, winner of the American Library Association Barbara Gittings Prize for Literature and a LAMBDA Literary Award Finalist and Book of the Year in the Australian Literary Review. He has taught creative writing at University of California, Los Angeles, Occidental College and in the Masters of Professional Writing program at University of Southern California. His short fiction and articles have appeared in publications including Harvard ReviewThe Sydney Morning HeraldSouthern California ReviewBest Australian StoriesAustralian Love Stories, Los Angeles Times and The Rattling Wall. His book and film reviews have appeared in publications including Los Angeles Review of Books and The Advocate. Film rights to The Great Inland Sea and Stray Dog Winter have been optioned in France and the United States, respectively. His third novel Wedding Bush Road has was recently released in Australia by Brio and in the United States by Counterpoint Press. David is Co-chair of the Los Angeles Committee of PEN America, on the Board of Trustees of Pen International, and is also a lawyer. For more information go to www.davidfranciswriter.com.

Vice Presidents

Svetlana Alexievich

Vice President

J. M. Coetzee

Vice President

Orhan Pamuk

Vice President

Margaret Atwood

Vice President

Niels E. Barford

Vice President

Sook-Hee Chun

Vice President

Kata Kulavkova

Vice President

Lucina Kathmann

Vice President

Eric Lax

Vice President

Joanne Leedom-Ackermann

Vice President

Predrag Matvejevic

Vice President

Boris A. Novak

Vice President

Michael Scammell

Vice President

Eugene Schoulgin

Vice President

Vida Ognjenovic

Vice President

Hori Takeaki

Vice President

Franca Tiberto

Vice President

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

Vice President

Perumal Murugan

Vice President

Nayantara Sahgal

Vice President

Elena Poniatowska

Vice President

Luisa Valenzuela

Vice President

Frankie Sionil Jose

Vice President