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Ralston Saul new president of PEN International

Author and big-time intellectual John Ralston Saul has just been elected president of PEN International. According to The Globe and Mail, he is the first Canadian to be elected president in the 88-year history of the organization.

Saul succeeds the Czech writer Jiri Grusa, who has held the post for six years. Earlier presidents have included Arthur Miller, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Alberto Moravia.

Saul, a novelist and essayist, is a former president of PEN Canada. PEN International is the world’s most important and oldest freedom of speech and literary organisation,” he said in a press release. “Almost 1,000 writers who are in prison or are in danger around the world look to us for help. We have to invent new ways of turning back the rise of authoritarian controls.”