PEN World Voices Festival presents REFLECTIONS ON VIOLENCE Colm Toibin, Aminatta Forna
About This Show
Colm Toibin’s latest novel House of Names tells the story of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, Orestes, Electra and Iphigenia but Toibin drew on contemporary proponents of extreme violence – the Boston marathon bomber, ISIS and a shocking ambush of Irish Protestants during the Troubles to reach his understanding of how to write about these Ancient Greek murderers. Aminatta Forna’s Happiness similarly draws on the brutal modern wars in Bosnia, Sierra Leone and Iraq to illuminate an African trauma psychiatrist’s evolving attitude to how his profession should understand – and treat – individuals traumatized by violence. Two of today’s outstanding lyrical writers of fiction discuss their approaches to writing about this extremely tough topic.
Colm Toibin is the author of nine novels, including Brooklyn and House of Names, and two collections of stories. In 2017, he was awarded the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Lifetime Achievement and the Kenyon Review Prize. He is Irene and Sidney B. Silverman Professor of Humanities at Columbia and a Contributing Editor at the London Review of Books. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages.
Photo Credit: Brigitte Lacombe
Aminatta Forna is the author of the novels Happiness, Ancestor Stones, The Memory of Love, and The Hired Man, as well as the memoir The Devil That Danced on the Water. Forna’s books have been translated into sixteen languages. Her essays have appeared in Granta, The Guardian, The Observer, and Vogue. She is currently the Lannan Foundation Chair in Poetics at Georgetown University.
Photo Credit: Nina Subin