Monday, December 30, 2013

Department of Czech Literary Yields, Continued

What We Saw in 2013 and What We’ll See in 2014

As I wrote in June, I’ve started a database of Czech lit in translation — not going all the way back, mind you, but just to keep track of what’s come out since the end of communism (I may also include a few books from ’89 and before, just for the sake of reference). It’s mainly for myself, but I figured there must be at least a few other people out there who are interested.

Random stack of Czech books from

Here’s what I’ve got so far: Please do write and let me know if you’re aware of any books I’ve missed.

And as far as I can tell, here’s what we’ve got to look forward to in English translation from Czech over the next 12 months (pub dates based on bookstore websites, rather than publishers’ sites, which aren’t always updated as often):

  • February: Aaron’s Leap, by Magdaléna Platzová, trans. Craig Cravens (Bellevue Literary Press), and Marketa Lazarová, by Vladislav Vančura, trans. Carleton Bulkin (Twisted Spoon Press). [N.B. The latter has been pushed back several times from its original date of spring/March 2013, so whether or not the Feb. date will hold is anybody’s guess.]
  • March: Rambling On: An Apprentice’s Guide to the Gift of the Gab, by Bohumil Hrabal, trans. David Short, and Of Mice and Mooshaber, by Ladislav Fuks, trans. Mark Corner (both Karolinum Press).
  • May: Harlequin’s Millions, by Bohumil Hrabal, trans. Stacey Knecht (Archipelago Books), and Nightwork, by Jáchym Topol, trans. Marek Tomin (Portobello Books). 

For those of you into statistics, note the expected yield for 2014 (six books) is 50 percent higher than it was this year (four books). 

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Czechs in New York Department

Němec, Klíma, Topol, Patočka — All in the Space of Eight Days

Czech it out. Czech list. Czeching in. Czech, please. Czech mate. Czech your head. Bouncing Czech. Time to bust out every stupid homophonic play on Czech you’ve ever heard, because starting this Friday, New Yorkers will be treated to a torrent of česká kultura the likes of which have seldom been seen. 

  1. November 8–14: “Independent of Reality: The Films of Jan Němec,” Brooklyn Academy of Music. The first full-career U.S. retrospective of Czechoslovak New Wave enfant terrible Jan Němec. Twelve films in seven days. Curated by Irena Kovarova and produced by her new independent venture, Comeback Company.

  2. November 11: Czech author Ivan Klíma in conversation with László Jakab Orsós, director of the PEN World Voices Festival, discussing Klíma’s new memoir, My Crazy Century (Grove Press, translated by Craig Cravens). Czech Center New York, 7 p.m.

  3. November 14–16: Czech author Jáchym Topol at the New Literature from Europe festival, discussing his latest novel, The Devil’s Workshop (Portobello Books, translated by Alex Zucker). Nine authors, three days, three venues. Times and locations hereNOTE: Topol is confirmed only for the Nov. 15 and 16 events.

  4. November 15: “Heretical Europe: A Workshop on Jan Patočka’s Philosophy of History,” the New School, 10 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. A one-day workshop examining the legacy of Czech philosopher Jan Patočka, a giant of phenomenology and a co-founder of the Charter 77 human rights movement in communist Czechoslovakia. List of speakers here
See you there!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Czech Protest Department

Hanged-Man Figures Strung Up in Czech Cities Warn Against Dangers of Communist Party

A group calling itself Dekomunizace (Decommunization) strung hanged-man figures up on poles, bridges, and public buildings in cities around the Czech Republic Monday night to publicize the Communist Party's abuses in the past and warn against what might happen if it returns to power.

Czech voters go to the polls on Friday and Saturday, in early elections called as the result of a corruption scandal, and public opinion surveys show the Communists likely to take second or third place, which would give them posts in government.

The black figures were strung up with red-colored nooses in Hradec Králové, Jihlava, Tábor, and Prague. The inscription on their torso reads "Went against the KSČ(M)." [Photo gallery]

Protest figures hang above a campaign poster for the Communist Party that reads "With the people, for the people." Photo: František Vlček, MAFRA

Though swept from power in the Velvet Revolution of 1989, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ) and its successor, the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM), remained a legal political party with members in Parliament, and never distanced itself from the crimes and human rights abuses it committed during its 41 years in power. 

Governments in other states of the former Soviet bloc banned the Communist Party after 1989. 

In another protest action, artist David Černý, long known for his provocative work, installed a floating middle finger aimed at Prague Castle on the Vltava river on Monday. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Department of the History of Czech Literature Abroad

How Famous Czech Authors Got Famous: A Post on the Margins of ALTA 2013

Česká literatura v cizině / Czech Literature Abroad was a lengthy, substantial discussion online in 2012, and those who read Czech (or feel at home with Google Translate) will want to spend some time with it, but meanwhile here's an excerpt, in rough translation, from one of Paul Wilson's contributions to the discussion that sheds a lot of light on how it was that famous Czech authors actually came to be famous. Lots of food for thought here, for every literary translator, or editor of literary translations:

Paul Wilson

"It seems to me the primary question isn't whether readings or similar events, whomever they're sponsored by, are an effective way to promote Czech literature in the West or not, but how does today's book market work in the West, and whether it would even be possible for a new Kundera to appear in this situation. The old model, if that's the right word, was pretty clear. I don't know how it was with Kundera, but with all of 'my' authors there was someone in the West on their side, sometimes more than one person. Havel had the agent Klaus Juncker, then director Joe Papp in the U.S., Sam Walters in England, and I don't know who else he had in Austria or Germany. (Also don't forget the influence of his friendship with Stoppard. The first harbinger of Havel's fame was Kenneth Tynan's profile of Stoppard in the New Yorker in 1968, I believe, where almost half of it was about Havel.) These were all people who were fans of his, who believed in him and could give him support, help him, stage his plays, promote him, not just as a one-time thing, but for the long run. (Havel also had a 'court translator' in every language and they created his distinctive 'voice' abroad.) Ivan Klíma had, among others, Philip Roth, and then Bill Buford, when he was editor in chief of Granta, and they ushered him into the literary mainstream, situated him, found him a good publishing house that was willing to promote him, not just print his books, but 'publish' them and all that goes along with that, including proper editing and publicity, in short who devoted attention to him as one of 'their' authors who they intended to have a long-term relationship with — warm, friendly, deep relationships for the most part."

Friday, June 07, 2013

Department of Literary Yields

Czech Crop for English Readers in 2013

So far it looks like The Devil's Workshop (my translation of Jáchym Topol's most recent novel, published yesterday in the UK by Portobello Books) and Lord Mord (by Miloš Urban, translated by Gerald Turner for Peter Owen Publishers) may be the only works of Czech fiction appearing in English translation this year.

Otherwise, according to the latest database of translations published by Chad Post on the Three Percent blog yesterday, there are no other books translated into English from Czech scheduled to appear this year. (Before anybody objects, I of course realize there is a Czech author on the list — Monika Zgustová — but she lives in Barcelona and wrote her novel The Silent Woman, due out in November, in Spanish.)

Major kudos to Mr. Post, by the way, for having had the foresight to start his lists. Without their existence, people like me would be less likely to do this kind of analysis, and the number of important debates and discussions they've given rise to is surely too many to count. Thank you, Chad! On the other hand, nobody's perfect, and there are a few Czech books missing from the list for 2013:
  • Grove Atlantic is slated to publish Ivan Klíma's mammoth memoir, My Crazy Century, translated by Craig Cravens, in November. (Although this is a memoir, not fiction.)
  • Twisted Spoon Press, in Prague, is supposed to bring out interwar giant Vladislav Vančura's classic novel Markéta Lazarová, in Carleton Bulkin's translation, although the originally scheduled pub date of spring (or March) 2013 has since been reported as May, then June, and it now seems to be due out in September. So we'll see.
  • Finally, Jantar Publishing, in London, is planning to bring out two works this fall: Kytice, by Karel Jaromír Erben (bilingual edition, trans. Susan Reynolds), and The History Teacher, by Tereza Brdečková, trans. Elsa Morrison and Jan Čulík.

For comparison's sake, here are the numbers of works of Czech literature translated into English in the past five years (again, data from Three Percent):
2012: 4  
2011: 2 
2010: 5 
2009: 6
2008: 5
I did some research and came up with a few more past publications:
2012: –1 + 5 + 2 
  • Harlequin's Millions, by Bohumil Hrabal, trans. Stacey Knecht, Archipelago Books, was slated for publication in April 2012 but is now listed as due out in April 2014 
  • Václav Havel: Leaving and The Memo, trans. Paul Wilson; The Increased Difficulty of Concentration, trans. Štěpán Šimek; The Vaněk Plays, trans. Jan Novák; The Pig, or Václav Havel's Hunt for a Pig, trans. Edward Einhorn; all Theater 61 Press 
  • A Bouquet of Czech Folktales, by Karel Jaromír Erben, trans. Marcela Malek Sulak, Twisted Spoon Press 
  •  On Flying Objects, by Emil Hakl, trans. Petr Kopet and Karen Reppin, Comma Press
2011:  +2 
  • Prague, I see a city . . ., by Daniela Hodrová, and The Angel-maker, by Michal Mareš, both trans. David Short, Jantar Publishing
2010: +1 
So the revised numbers would be:
2012: 10  
2011: 4 
2010: 6 
2009: 6
2008: 5
I did the best sleuthing I could, but if I've missed any books, I'll look forward to hearing about them! (P.S. I realize my labels are incomplete, but Blogger allows only a limited number of them.)

Friday, May 31, 2013

Rational Calculations Department

My Two Cents on Burma

"Attacks on Muslims in Myanmar" — nice of the Times to op-ed this. They are mistaken, though, in their invoking of the tired old bugbear of "old hatreds" (typically, when it comes to genocide, as in Rwanda and Yugoslavia, the favored variation is "ancient hatreds").


One of the biggest obstacles to accurate understanding, and therefore effective prevention, of genocide is the failure to see it as a political phenomenon, i.e., a calculated decision on the part of a sector of society for the purpose of gaining (or regaining) power. The fact that "police and security officials," as the Times editorial board notes, "have been accused of failing to prevent attacks on minorities or being complicit in them," as well as the fact that the Rohingya Muslims are not the only minority who have been targeted — the Kachin, Karen, and Shan peoples have all been on the receiving end of violence and human rights violations by the Burmese government — should make it obvious that the country's rulers see a benefit in doing so.

If it's true that sanctions didn't help, it's also true that praising president Thein Sein for his progress on reforms while making no mention of the continuing massacres he's carrying out (described by Human Rights Watch last month as crimes against humanity), as Obama did last week when he welcomed him at the White House, is nothing but shameful and helps no one except the regime and the companies it does business with.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Department of Say What?

Bad Translation Makes Mexicans Think Prague Has Special Subway Cars for People to Have Sex

slew of Mexican news sites reported over the weekend that a campaign to increase ridership on the Prague Metro included designating a car on each train where passengers could knock boots.

Photo: writes that the campaign, described in English here, will create a special car where singles can meet ("vagon, kde se budou moct lidé seznámit"), but that's as far as it's meant to go.

Some of the Mexican sites, like the one above, illustrated their stories with photographs from New York City's annual No Pants Subway Ride.

Filip Drápal of Ropid, the Prague transport company, is quoted as saying that nobody who enters the car will be forced to make contact with their fellow riders.

Other features of the campaign to induce Praguers to ride the Metro instead of driving their cars include concerts on the platforms and posters with quotes from Michal Viewegh novels and lyrics by pop rockers Mandrage.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Hues and Cries Department

Adam Hochschild, King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa, 280–3:
An ancient English law made it a crime to witness a murder or discover a corpse and not raise a "hue and cry." But we live in a world of corpses, and only about some of them is there a hue and cry. True, with a population loss estimated at ten million people, what happened in the Congo could reasonably be called the most murderous part of the European Scramble for Africa. But that is so only if you look at sub-Saharan Africa as the arbitrary checkerboard formed by colonial boundaries. If you draw boundaries differently — to surround, say, all African equatorial rain forest land rich in wild rubber — then what happened in the Congo is, unfortunately, no worse than what happened in neighboring colonies [. . .]
Photos from King Leopold's Ghost
Around the time the Germans were slaughtering Hereros, the world also was largely ignoring America's brutal counterguerrilla war in the Philippines, in which U.S. troops tortured prisoners, burned villages, killed 20,000 rebels, and saw 200,000 Filipinos die of war-related hunger or disease. Britain came in for no international criticism of its killings of aborigines in Australia, in accordance with extermination orders as ruthless as von Trotha's. And, of course, in neither Europe nor the United States was there major protest against the decimation of the American Indians.
When these other mass murders went largely unnoticed except by their victims, why, in England and the United States, was there such a storm of righteous protest about the Congo? The politics of empathy are fickle. Certainly one reason Britons and Americans focused on the Congo was that it was a safe target. Outrage over the Congo did not involve British or American misdeeds, nor did it entail the diplomatic, trade, or military consequences of taking on a major power like France or Germany. [. . .]
What happened in the Congo was indeed mass murder on a vast scale, but the sad truth is that the men who carried it out for Leopold were no more murderous than many Europeans then at work or at war elsewhere in Africa. Conrad said it best: "All Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz."

Friday, May 03, 2013

Department of Free Speech

Is it brave to tell someone to shut the fuck up when you're a celebrity standing on a stage and they're a nameless person sitting in the audience?

Or, more to the point: Is it wrong for the head of a free speech organization, a man who gives lectures on censorship, to tell a protester to shut the fuck up at a public event?

Photo: Anonymous

This was the question on my mind as I read about what happened at the opening event of this year's PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, whose main theme is bravery.

According to the account on the PEN Live Tumblr:
This is how the Opening Night Reading to PEN’s World Voices Festival of International Literature in The Great Hall of The Cooper Union started on Monday: Salman Rushdie walked on stage and said super eloquent things like, “The other meaning of courage is real artistic risk ... When we try and find new ways of saying things.”
Then, a belligerent man with an anti-government sign yelled out, “You were for the war in Iraq!” He holds up his smartphone, “I have it right here in front of me! A war based on lies that killed a million people!” This guy was annoying everyone at the event.
Rushdie’s calm, English-accented response: “The only lies being told here are by you, sir. As president of this organization, I led this organization against that war, so you can shut the fuck up. It doesn’t matter how you shout, sir. It doesn’t make what you say correct. That is the technique of the bully throughout history—to try and shout other people down.”
With those words, and Rushdie’s cold-eyed stare hardened by assassination attempts and emboldened with knighthood, the man shut the fuck up. We continued on with the reading. It was an intense night, but in a good way.
The protester was wrong—if by "you" he meant Rushdie. Writing in the Washington Post in November 2002, Rushdie questioned the reluctance of "antiwar liberals" to recognize that "Saddam Hussein and his ruthless gang of cronies from his home village of Tikrit are homicidal criminals, and their Iraq is a living hell." But he cited several reasons why the U.S. war on Iraq was not justified and why he "remained unconvinced by President Bush's Iraqi grand design." He restated this position in a letter to the Guardian in 2007, adding that "as president of PEN American Center, I led that organisation in a number of campaigns against the Bush administration's policies."

If by "you" the protester meant PEN, the answer's a little murkier. A search of the word "Iraq" on the PEN American Center website turns up 16 pages of results—including "Rushdie mobilizes American writers against Bush," "Pamuk: Iraq war is the shame of US and West," "Resolution on the United States of America" (from the 2003 International PEN Assembly, censuring U.S. crackdowns on freedom of the press in connection with the war in Iraq), and "Sara Paretsky: Refusing to allow pressure to silence a critical voice"—but a search of press releases from Sept. 11, 2001, to March 19, 2003 (the date the U.S. invaded Iraq) returns no statement on the subject by the organization as such. Extending the search to Dec. 31, 2003, reveals "PEN protests Ashcroft comments on librarians, urges repeal of Patriot Act." That's it.

Of course there's a difference between being for a war and not being against it, but it seems to me both Rushdie and the protester could be found guilty of exaggerating their claims. (And again, there's the issue of power differential: Can an ordinary person speaking from the floor to the president of a national organization standing on stage honestly be accused of "bullying"?)

What I suspect, although the author of the PEN Live dispatch doesn't mention it, is the protester probably meant to direct his condemnation at neither Rushdie nor PEN, but a woman named Suzanne Nossel. [Note: At the time I wrote this, I had not yet received the photograph above. Now that I have it, it's clear the protester was referring to Nossel, not Rushdie. AZ, 5/4/13]

In January the PEN American Center named Nossel as its new executive director. She comes to the job with some baggage, having lasted barely a year as executive director at Amnesty International USA, resigning in the wake of barbed accusations that Amnesty was guilty of "shilling for US wars."

These charges stemmed primarily from an incident during Nossel's tenure last spring, when Amnesty placed ads on bus shelters in Chicago during the May 20–21 NATO Summit there, congratulating the military alliance for its contribution to human rights for women and girls in Afghanistan:


Simultaneous with the NATO event, Amnesty USA held a "Shadow Summit for Afghan Women's Rights," featuring former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and speakers from the Afghan Women's Network and Women for Afghan Women, among others.

The outcry—both over the poster and at the inclusion of Albright, an advocate for the use of U.S. military force to stop atrocities and advance democracy—was loud enough that Amnesty felt obliged to respond. In a blog post titled "We Get It," AI USA's director of policy admitted that the poster was "confusing," but defended it, explaining:
The shadow summit — and the poster — is directed at NATO, not to praise it, but to remind the leaders who will be discussing Afghanistan’s future this weekend about what is really at stake if women’s rights to security, political participation and justice are traded away or compromised.
We were thinking about the hard won gains Afghan women have made since the fall of the Taliban. Ten years ago, Afghanistan had one of the worst human rights records in the world in terms of women’s and girls’ rights. The Taliban banned women from working, going to school or even leaving home without a male relative.
Today, three million girls go to school, compared to virtually none under the Taliban. Women make up 20 percent of university graduates. Maternal mortality and infant mortality have declined. Ten percent of all prosecutors and judges are women, compared to none under the Taliban regime. This is what we meant by progress: the gains Afghan women have struggled to achieve over the past decade. [. . .]
As a matter of policy, Amnesty doesn’t take a position for or against NATO. We didn’t call for the bombing of Afghanistan — in fact, readers who were members or following our work when the bombing started in 2001 will remember that our message was “justice not revenge” and that we went into crisis response mode out of concern for the impact on civilians.
And we’re not calling for NATO to remain in the country. [emphasis in original]
Sahar Saba, former spokesperson for the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), founded in 1977 and supported by Amnesty in the past, argued that Amnesty was overstating the gains achieved by Afghan women since NATO entered the country in 2001 and that it was misleading to compare the current status of women with the situation under the Taliban.

Jodie Evans, a cofounder of Code Pink: Women for Peace, led a campaign asking the Amnesty board for Nossel's resignation. She attended the Shadow Summit in Chicago and during a Q&A session asked Nossel about the posters, as well as about reports that Nossel had let go staff from Amnesty's campaign to end the U.S. use of torture and close the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay. According to Evans,
Nossel said the signs [about NATO in Afghanistan] were a mistake but the intent was to talk about how the women were better off and to tell NATO they needed to keep the women safe. I replied that her messaging was still off, and that telling the audience of supporters of Amnesty that war is good for women was a horrible lie.
I'm conscious of the need not to go too far astray here, but it's important to acknowledge that the debate about whether it's possible to promote human rights by military means—a matter of life and death most of all for the people on the receiving end of U.S. firepower—is as current now as ever, and Nossel, because of the jobs she has held and the statements she's made, both in print and in person, is right in the thick of it.


Nossel became a target for antiwar activists already in 2012, when she was hired as head of Amnesty USA. In contrast to her predecessor, Larry Cox—a lifelong activist with deep grassroots connections, whose involvement with Amnesty dated back to 1976—Nossel came to the job with a management background in both human rights (COO at Human Rights Watch) and corporate media (Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal and Bertelsmann), as well as a two-year stint in the State Department under Hillary Clinton, serving as deputy assistant secretary of state for international organizations.

The most trenchant criticism of Nossel has centered on her statements concerning U.S. foreign policy, beginning with an article she wrote for the establishment journal Foreign Affairs while at Bertelsmann, in 2004, titled "Smart Power." There is nothing terribly new about her argument, which can be boiled down to the idea that the United States, since the end of the Cold War, can no longer rely on military might alone to ensure its preeminent global standing: "trade, diplomacy, foreign aid, and the spread of American values" are equally valuable tools.

(The first person to put forward this position in U.S. policy circles was actually Joseph Nye, a political scientist at Harvard University, in a 1990 book titled Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power [his main argument is also summarized in this 1990 article for Foreign Policy]. The term Nye used was "soft power," not "smart power," but Nye, notably, was less interested in propping up U.S. hegemony than in "meet[ing] the challenges of transnational interdependence.")

Nossel casts herself as a Democrat, a "progressive" who wishes to "wrest . . . back from Republican policymakers" the tarnished doctrine of liberal internationalism, which argues that liberal states should intervene in other states to pursue liberal objectives. "Progressives," she writes in Foreign Affairs,
must therefore advance a foreign policy that renders more effective the fight against terrorism but that also goes well beyond it—focusing on the smart use of power to promote U.S. interests through a stable grid of allies, institutions, and norms. They must define an agenda that marshals all available sources of power and then apply it in bold yet practical ways to counter threats and capture opportunities. Such an approach would reassure an uneasy American public, unite a fractious government bureaucracy, and rally the world behind U.S. goals.
For Nossel, human rights are more of an instrument than an end, a means to advancing U.S. interests: "Policymakers must pragmatically seek out opportunities for action where idealism and realism intersect and pursue their goals in ways that reinforce, rather than deplete, U.S. power."

Most other criticism of Nossel at the time of her appointment as executive director of AI USA focused on her statements regarding Israel (which she was accused of defending at the expense of Palestinians' rights) and her stance vis-à-vis Iran (which she has argued Israel should attack preemptively).

This is not an exhaustive account of Nossel's credentials—far from it—and to be fair, Nossel has taken positions on other issues, and other countries, that are not at all controversial and have therefore gone unremarked. She's also the founder of a blog called Democracy Arsenal, a solidly liberal-Democrat forum that is entirely unexceptional in the range of opinion of its contributors.

The truth is, Nossel is squarely in the mainstream of present-day Democratic foreign policy thinking.

Journalist and author Chris Hedges, who until recently most people knew mainly from his bylines in the New York Times, sprang more openly into the public eye in 2011, thanks to his engagement in Occupy Wall Street. Since then, he's become one of the go-to talking heads of the left, with a weekly column on Truthdig and regular appearances in the media and at public events.


In protest against the PEN American Center's hiring of Nossel, in April Hedges announced he was "resigning" from PEN and had turned down the organization's invitation to appear in this year's edition of the PEN World Voices Festival. In a follow-up to his announcement, "The Hijacking of Human Rights," he bludgeons Nossel, the U.S. government, and most of this country's largest human rights organizations for "buying into the false creed that U.S. military force can be deployed to promote human rights."

Nossel supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003: It's true. Hedges goes too far, though, in calling her "one of the most fervent cheerleaders for the Iraq War," claiming she "embraced the administration's policy, whether that's drone attacks, the assassination of U.S. citizens, the curtailment of civil liberties, had not spoken out against torture." Given that she was in the State Department for only two years (2009–11), and in a relatively low-profile position, I think his rhetoric is overblown.

The growing convergence of human rights and humanitarian aims with those of U.S. foreign policy—as documented and scrutinized in David Rieff's must-read A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis—is cause for great concern, and in Nossel these tendencies collide, but she, personally, is not responsible for them. The rising pitch of invective against her ("feminist for imperialism," "US imperial lackey," "war hawk") is out of proportion to her role in the matter.

But it is right to ask whether Nossel is an appropriate person to run the second-oldest human rights organization in the United States. (The PEN American Center was founded in 1922. The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920. By the way, the PEN American Center claims that PEN International, founded in 1921, is the world's oldest human rights organization, but some quick web research reveals that that distinction rightly belongs to Anti-Slavery International, founded as the Anti-Slavery Society in 1839. PEN International itself, interestingly, does not make that claim.)

And it is right to point out, as Chris Hedges does, that on the U.S. government's treatment of whistleblower Bradley Manning, the PEN American Center, whose charter declares "that the necessary advance of the world toward a more highly organized political and economic order renders free criticism of governments, administrations, and institutions imperative," has remained silent (as has PEN International).

Should Suzanne Nossel be replaced? I think so. I'm a member of PEN, and I believe we can do better. I also think the PEN American Center should join the Center for Constitutional Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union in standing up for Bradley Manning's constitutional rights.

According to a source who was at the Monday event, when the protester shouted "What about Bradley Manning?" Rushdie replied that PEN was working on it. Maybe. There's no evidence of it yet. Until there is, Salman Rushdie should watch his mouth.