There are two ways to watch the program: in-person at our venue Alphabet City or live-streamed online. Please scroll to the bottom to review our Covid-19 safety policies for indoor programs @ Alphabet City, including the proof of vaccination requirement.
Our annual Freedom to Create Keynote features two distinguished authors: Nobel Prize-winning author and activist Wole Soyinka and author Richard Wiley.
Each year we gather at Alphabet City to honor an international writer or artist who has overcome efforts to limit their creative freedom. This year we honor Nigerian author and playwright Wole Soyinka. Among many accomplishments, Soyinka co-founded the Cities of Asylum movement with Salman Rushdie, Václav Havel, and Jacques Derrida.
Soyinka will read from his 2021 novel Chronicles of the Happiest People on Earth, his first novel in nearly 25 years, as well as discuss the founding of the Cities of Asylum movement alongside author Richard Wiley, and answer audience questions.
Join us for an inspiring afternoon that speaks to the core of our mission to protect and celebrate creative free expression.
Click here to buy your copy of Chronicles of the Happiest People on Earth from the City of Asylum Bookstore.
Wole Soyinka is a Nigerian author, playwright, poet, and political activist whose prolific body of work includes his debut novel The Interpreters, the play Death and the King’s Horseman, and his newest work Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986, becoming the first African laureate. Soyinka was imprisoned in Nigeria for his criticism of the Nigerian government, and spent many years living in exile in Europe and the United States. He is a co-founder of the Cities of Asylum movement.
Richard Wiley is an American novelist and short story writer. He is the author of nine novels including Soldiers in Hiding, winner of the PEN/Faulkner award for Best American Fiction, Ahmed’s Revenge, and Tacoma Stories. Wiley is professor emeritus of English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and has lived and taught in Korea, Japan, Kenya, and Nigeria. He is a co-founder of the Black Mountain Institute and a founding member of the North American Network of Cities of Asylum.
Covid-19 policies for indoor programs [at Alphabet City] as of September 1, 2021
- To keep our audience safe, we will require proof of vaccination (physical card or photo) to attend all events at Alphabet City.
- There will be special accommodations for children under 12 and people with medical conditions or religious beliefs preventing them from being vaccinated. These audience members will be asked to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of the performance start time, or a negative COVID-19 antigen test taken within 6 hours of the performance start time.
- All guests will be required to wear masks.
- Audience size will be limited to 60% total capacity and seats will be set up with moderate social distancing.
- Please remember there is a restaurant, 40 North, inside our open concept venue. Diners will be required to show proof of vaccination but will not wear masks while seated at tables.