No matter the restriction, the control mechanism or oppression, PEN America is a platform for authentic stories—voices that ring loud and free on the page.
Jennifer Finney Boylan contributed to PEN’s latest publication Issue: 21 Mythologies, with Transfigured. It connects with incarcerated readers as she writes, “For a long time, I thought I didn’t exist…It was like walking on a long-deserted beach without any footprints.” Searching for identity is not limited to incarcerated people — agency is a normal, human want and need — it’s the desire to exist.
Amitava Kumar writes, #Fakenews to point out that “myths function to remove any rational basis for truth; instead they promote blind faith and a vulnerability to rumors.”
Issue: 21 Mythologies offers cutting edge stories that can be shared in ordinary conversations for truth seeking.
Kimiko Hahn writes For the Others: A Zuihitsu, which focuses on the concept of the word “other.” When people want to distance themselves from someone, they say, “No, the other guy.” Hahn gives keen examples of the power of myths and fake news by way of “othering.”
Although numerous studies demonstrate that immigrants are not the criminals conservative politicians claim they are, Hahn quotes what President Donald J. Trump told The New York Times: “Every day, sanctuary cities release illegal immigrants, drug dealers, traffickers, gang members back into our communities. They’re safe havens for just some terrible people.”
Le Guin defines the craft of writing as, “If what I do, what I make, is beautiful, it isn’t a physical beauty. It’s imaginary, it takes place in the mind—my mind, and my reader’s.”
In the 192 pages, stuffed with 43 stories, written by 57 contributors, I flipped back and forth, admiring its pictures and smiles and its confrontation with realism. So with that, I eagerly await PEN America Issue: 22 — will it be Truth?
Juan’s book review