John Rastun Saul - Pen President
Born in Ottawa, Saul studied at McGill University in Montreal, Canada and at King's College London where he wrote his thesis on the modernization of France under Charles de Gaulle, and earned his Ph.D in 1972. After helping to set up the national oil company Petro-Canada in 1976, as Assistant to its first Chair, Maurice F. Strong, he published his first novel The Birds of Prey in 1977. Through the late 1970s and 1980s, he travelled regularly with guerrilla armies, spending a great deal of time in North Africa and South East Asia. Out of this time came his novels, The Field Trilogy. It was during those extended periods in Northwest Africa and Southeast Asia that he witnessed fellow writers there suffering government suppression of freedom of expression, which caused him to become interested in the work of International PEN. In 2009 he was elected president of International PEN, only the second North American to hold the position since its creation in 1921, the other being Arthur Miller.
As a novelist
The Birds of Prey, a political novel based in Gaullist France, was an international best seller. He then published The Field Trilogy, which deals with the crisis of modern power and its clash with the individual. It includes Baraka or The Lives, Fortunes and Sacred Honor of Anthony Smith, The Next Best Thing, and The Paradise Eater, which won the Premio Letterario Internazionale in Italy. De Si Bons Americains is a picaresque novel in which he observes the life of modern nouveaux riches Americans.