British Library to host Salman Rushdie celebration event

Writers including Hanif Kureishi, Monica Ali and Nigella Lawson will gather in London to share readings and reflections two months after the author was attacked on stage

Writers including Monica Ali, Hanif Kureishi, Julian Barnes and Nigella Lawson will gather this week at an event to celebrate Salman Rushdie.

An Evening for Salman Rushdie will be held at the British Library in London on 13 October, with members of the public invited to take part by attending in person or watching a live stream.

Others taking part by sharing readings or reflections include Mona Arshi, Melvyn Bragg, Mariella Frostrup, Meena Kandasamy, Kathy Lette, Pauline Melville, Margie Orford, Philippe Sands, Burhan Sönmez and Alan Yentob.

The event takes place two months after Rushdie was attacked shortly before giving a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in New York state on 12 August.

The 75-year-old was stabbed in the neck and torso, and was hospitalised with serious injuries which he is recovering from.

Rushdie’s suspected attacker, Hadi Matar, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree attempted murder and assault charges.

The attack took place more than three decades after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then Iran’s supreme leader, issued a fatwa or religious edict, calling on Muslims to assassinate the author a few months after The Satanic Verses was published.

Speaking a few weeks before he was attacked, Rushdie told the German news magazine Stern that his life was “very normal again”.

Prior to his attack, he had signed a letter expressing “grave concerns about the rapidly worsening situation for human rights in India” while his lecture at the Chautauqua Institution was due to be about the importance of the US giving asylum to exiled writers.

The British Library event on Thursday is being described as a gathering to celebrate Rushdie’s “strength and dedication as a writer, activist, and a champion of free expression”.

It has been organised by English PEN, PEN International, Index on Censorship, ARTICLE 19, Humanists UK, and Rushdie’s publisher Penguin Random House UK.

The gathering follows a similar event in New York City, which took place a week after the attack on Rushdie. At that event, titled Stand With Salman: Defend the Freedom to Write, crowds gathered near the steps of the New York Public Library to watch writers including Jeffrey Eugenides, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Siri Hustvedt and Gay Talese read from Rushdie’s works.

An Evening for Salman Rushdie will be simultaneously livestreamed on the British Library platform and free tickets can be booked for in-person or virtual attendance.

Tickets are available on the British Library website.


Sarah Shaffi

The GuardianTramp

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