A dozen well-known writers spoke on the steps of Manhattan’s majestic public library. The author was invited to follow the event online, from his hospital room.
On August 12, Salman Rushdie, who wrote “The Satanic Verses,” was about to speak at a conference in upstate New York when a man stabbed him repeatedly in the neck and abdomen. Evacuated by helicopter to a hospital, he had to be briefly placed on a ventilator before his condition improved.
Salman Rushdie “has always risen to the occasion”, said Irish writer Colum McCann, “I think he will have something profound to say”, once he recovers.
Arrested immediately after the incident, his attacker, Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old American of Lebanese origin, today pleads “not guilty”.
“Censorship is anti-creation”
Writer and journalist Gay Talese, wearing his favorite fedora hat, read an excerpt from the novel “The Golden House”, while Irish author Colum McCann recited a passage from the essay “Out of Kansas”, published by Salman Rushdie in the magazine “New Yorker” in 1992.
Salman Rushdie “has always risen to the occasion”, said the Irish writer, “I think he will have something profound to say”, once he recovers.
The American AM Homes – some of whose books, such as “The End of Alice”, have created controversy – read extracts from the text “On Censorship” (“On Censorship”). “No writer really wants to talk about censorship,” she ranted. “Writers want to talk about creation, and censorship is anti-creation. »
“A heavy toll”
Salman Rushdie had set part of the Islamic world ablaze with the publication of the “Satanic Verses” in 1988, culminating with the claim of his assassination by the Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini who had issued a fatwa to this effect. The author was then forced to live in hiding and under police protection.
Salman wrote that the role of a writer is to name the unspeakable, to show the impostors, to take sides, to start debates, to shape the world and keep it from falling asleep,”
Hari Kunzru, British novelist and journalist, recited the beginning of this book which radically transformed the life of Salman Rushdie.
“Salman once wrote that the role of a writer is to name the unspeakable, to show the impostors, to take sides, to start debates, to shape the world and keep it from falling asleep,” he said. “That’s why we are here. »
“Not even a blade through the throat could silence the voice of Salman Rushdie,” said Suzanne Nossel, president of the association for the defense of writers in the world, PEN America, at the origin of the rally.