Round-Up: Ahmed Naji, Katherine Dunn, and More

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From a protest over the imprisonment of an Egyptian writer to the first ever female-led crime writing festival, here are the latest literary headlines:

  • PEN America is teaming up with writers across the globe to protest the “unjust imprisonment” of Egyptian writer Ahmed Naji. Last week, at least 120 prominent writers signed an open letter demanding his release. The signatories include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Neil Gaiman, and Roxane Gay, among others. The letter is addressed to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and also urges the  “Egyptian government to uphold the right to free expression of all”. PEN America recently awarded Naji with the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award.

  • Katherine Dunn, author of the National Book Award Finalist Geek Love, passed away last week at the age of 70. Dunn was a Portland, Oregon native and published three novels in her lifetime: Attic, Truck, and Geek Love. She was also a prolific journalist, publishing pieces on boxing in the New York Times and The Oregonian, among others. At the time of her passing, Dunn was working on her fourth novel.

  • The nonprofit organization We Need Diverse Books hosted a panel on “Love and Loss in Children’s Literature” during this year’s Book Con. Authors like Jenny Han and Francisco X. Stork tackled the themes of love and loss but also how they are “made richer by being interwoven through ‘marginalized cultures,’” according to Publisher’s Weekly. This panel comes just days after WNDB announced its coming masterclass, in conjunction with the Library of Congress, on writing and publishing for children and young adults. The masterclass will take place on June 13, 2016 in Washington, DC.

  • A group of crime writers in London is launching the first ever female-led crime writing festival. The Killer Women festival will be sponsored by Audible, the audiobook giant, and the accountancy firm HW Fisher. Killer Women is a collective of female crime writers co-founded by Louise Millar and Melanie McGrath with the purpose of bringing together writers. The festival will take place on October 15, 2016. Activities will include master classes with writers from the collective, workshops, and even panels with real-life detectives.