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Four Questions for New PEN President Andrew Solomon

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by Laura Godfrey

Andrew Solomon, an LGBTQ activist and Columbia University professor — who also happens to have written a few books, including 2012’s Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity — is now the new president of PEN American Center. A week after being named to the post, we talked to Solomon about free expression, hate speech, and his next book.

Q. In light of January’s Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris, how do you think writers and journalists can best demonstrate their support for free expression?

A. The best advertisement for free expression is the use of it. We have a moral obligation to speak of difficult topics, and to speak for people in countries where such open speech is perilous. We demonstrate our support for free expression when we refuse to let the Chinese censor a book we are publishing in the People’s Republic; when we write openly about the complexities of Islam and refuse to be bullied into silence; when we push and push to find out the truth about the prisoners held in Guantanamo; when we insist that writing can be a moral act.

(To read the rest of the interview, please visit Publishers Weekly.)