One of the highlights of this year's PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature was a talk between writers E.L. Doctorow, Margaret Atwood and Martin Amis. New York Times chief film critic A.O. Scott asked the authors about America and its role in the global political culture at The Times Center.
The Sunday before the talk, Doctorow (Homer & Langley, Ragtime), Atwood (The Blind Assassin, Alias Grace) and Amis (Time's Arrow, The Rachel Papers) had written essays for The Sunday Review section of The Times on the subject. Doctorow's was called, "Unexceptionalism: A Primer"; Atwood's was titled, "Hello, Martians. Let Moby Dick Explain"; and Amis's, "Marty and Nick Jr. Go to America."
Roughly 100 writers from 25 countries were in New York City from April 30 to May 6 for this year's PEN festival.
Doctorow on why America is becoming increasingly unexceptional, "in terms of our secret warrant-less searches of people's homes and businesses and records, and our data-mini