Leonard Lopate, Wallace Shawn and Noted Writers Headline “Guantánamo Diary” Event

Reading and panel discussion on still-imprisoned Guantánamo detainee, Mohamedou Ould Salhi’s diary

The School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University and PEN American Center will present “Guantánamo Diary: A Reading and Conversation” on Monday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the University’s Alexander Kasser Theater. This is an encore presentation of a sold-out New York City event presented by PEN last February that garnered national and international press coverage. 

Using Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s book Guantánamo Diary as a starting point, “Guantánamo Diary” will explore issues of national security, prison life, free expression and the legacy of 9/11. The first and only diary by a still-imprisoned Guantánamo detainee, Guantánamo Diary is a compelling first-hand account of imprisonment, torture and day-to-day interactions in the infamous detention camp.

Readers will include actor and playwright Wallace Shawn, New Yorker staff writer DT Max, short story writer Deborah Eisenberg and novelists Emily St. John Mandel, Joshua Ferris, Francine Prose and Elissa Schappell. Leonard Lopate, host of WNYC’s daily talk show, The Leonard Lopate Show, will moderate a panel discussion with criminal defense attorney Nancy Hollander, and former PEN Freedom to Write director and Guantánamo Diary editor Larry Siems.

Three years into his captivity at Guantánamo, Slahi began writing a diary that recounts both his life before he was seized by the United States and his experiences as a detainee. Guantánamo Diary is not only a vivid record of a miscarriage of justice, but a deeply personal memoir that is at once terrifying, humorous and gracious.

“In the context of the continuing debate about both terrorism and the future of Guantánamo, we are proud to partner with PEN on this provocative event,” says School of Communication and Media Director Merrill Brown.

“More than 13 years on, it is easy to forget that 122 men remain in detention at Guantánamo, with little prospect of justice or freedom,” says PEN Executive Director Suzanne Nossel. “Guantánamo Diary makes the riveting story of one detainee come alive. We’re thrilled to bring it to audiences as engaged and informed as the people of Montclair.”

Slahi’s lawyers fought for seven years to have the historically significant manuscript declassified and cleared for public release. Published by Little, Brown and Company, Guantánamo Diary was released worldwide on January 20, 2015, and has since formed the basis of an ongoing international campaign to free Slahi.

“At the School of Communication and Media, we believe that a critical component of our mission is to bring events designed to prompt engagement with the issues of our time to the campus community and the region,” says Brown. “With PEN as our partner, we can combine our public service mission with an emphasis on the role of writers and journalists in these debates.”

“Guantánamo Diary: A Reading and Conversation” on April 27 is a free event from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. at Montclair State’s Kasser Theater, 1 Normal Avenue, Montclair, N.J.

To reserve a ticket, please RSVP to address-reservations@open.org.