23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

»Worldwide Reading« of Novels and Essays by Salman Rushdie on 29th September 2022

Portrait Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie [© Hartwig Klappert]

Ladies and gentlemen,
dear friends,

The assassination attempt on Salman Rushdie still has us in shock. We are hereby calling for a »Worldwide Reading« of Salman Rushdie’s works. Please see below. Many authors from all continents support the call, including Adonis, Jennifer Clement, Andrei Kurkov, Wole Soyinka, Janne Teller, Bernard-Henri Levy, Peter Schneider, Amir Hassan Cheheltan, Robert Hass and Sergei Lebjedev. The author Madame Nielsen also suggested that we carry »The Satanic Verses« with us everywhere in public spaces until September 29, and that we open and read the book everywhere, in cafes, parks, subways. Elfriede Jelinek encourages authors to place excerpts on their own websites if the rights can be acquired. We thank Richard Herzinger for drafting the call.

Sincerely,
Ulrich Schreiber
Festival Director and Head of Program
international literature festival berlin

Call

The international literature festival berlin [ilb] invites individuals, schools, universities, cultural institutions and media to participate in a »Worldwide Reading« of Salman Rushdie’s works – from »Midnight’s Children«, »The Satanic Verses«, »Joseph Anton« to his latest book »Languages of Truth« – on September 29, 2022. The reading is intended to send a signal for the freedom of literature and public speech as well as the solidarity with the author, who was the victim of a horrific assassination attempt.

Even if the concrete background of the assassination attempt and the motive of the perpetrator have not yet been clarified, it appears to be evident who is responsible: It goes back to the fatwa that the Iranian »revolutionary leader« Ayatollah Khomeini issued against Rushdie in 1989. It called for the killing of the Indian-born, British writer because he had supposedly insulted the Islam, the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad with »The Satanic Verses.« To this day, the Iranian regime has not withdrawn the call to kill the author, just as it has not withdrawn the bounty it placed on his head at the time. The important media in Iran are currently applauding the attacker. 

For years, Salman Rushdie therefore had to live under intensive police protection. For more than 20 years, it was assumed that there was no longer any danger to his life. But this assumption has been shockingly proven wrong by the bloody attack in New York. It proves that the threat to elementary human rights and freedoms remains constant. Moreover, the attack on Rushdie comes at a time when the democratic world is being forced into the defensive by increasingly aggressive authoritarian powers of various kinds, if not – as in Ukraine – it is overrun with death and destruction through open war and an incredible range of violence.

It is therefore absolutely urgent to stand up firmly and defend law and human dignity. By reading Salman Rushdie’s novels and essays, freedom-loving people all over the world can send a signal that they will not be intimidated by threats of violence and will not bow to any attempt to suppress or annihilate thoughts expressed in speech, writing and images.

Readings can take place anywhere, even privately in a small circle, in a school, in a cultural institution or on the radio. People and institutions who would like to participate with a reading on September 29, 2022 are asked to send us the following information: Organizers, location, time, participating actors, event language, link to your website if applicable. The e-mail address is: worldwidereading@literaturfestival.com. We kindly ask organizers to clear the rights for readings on their own.

Signed by

Adonis, France/ Syria
Ghayath Almadhoun, Palestine/ Sweden
Martin Amis, UK/ USA
Frank Mackay Anim-Appiah, Ghana
Mahnaz Badihian, USA
Anneke Brassinga, Netherlands
Brian Brett, Canada
Breyten Breytenbach, South Africa
Simone Buchholz, Germany
Maite Carranza, Spain
Amir Cheheltan, Iran
Don Mee Choi, South Korea/ USA
Moon Chung-hee, South Korea
Jennifer Clement, USA/ Mexico
J.P. Cuenca, Brasil
Krzysztof Czyżewski, Poland
Michael Day, Germany
Louis de Berniere-Smart, UK
Radka Denemarková, Czech Republic
Philippe Di Folco, France
Tishani Doshi, India
Tanja Dückers, Germany
Carolin Emcke, Germany
Georges-Arthur Goldschmidt, Germany/ France
Dieter Gräf, Germany
Joachim Helfer, Germany
Sverre Henmo, Norway
Alban Nikolai Herbst, Germany
Felicitas Hoppe, Germany
Stanka Hrastelj, Slovenia
Iman Humaydan, Lebanon
Basma Hussein
Simon Ings, UK
Elfriede Jelinek, Austria
Noor Kanj, Syria/ Germany
Khaled Khalifa, Syria
Reinhard Kleist, Germany
Enne Koens, Netherlands
Olaf Kühl, Germany
Andrej Kurkow, Ukraine
Laila Lalami, Marocco/ USA
Jonathan Levi, USA/ Italy
Bernard-Henri Lévy, Algeria/ France
Yang Lian, China/ UK
Elvira Lindo, Spain
Oliver Lubrich, Germany
Silviu Lupescu, Romania
Alberto Manguel, Argentina/ Portugal
Marko Martin, Germany
Tienchi Martin-Liao, China/ Germany
Hala Mohammad, Syria
Mehdi Mozaffari, Iran/ Denmark
Chris Murray
Widad Nabi, Syria
Helmuth A. Niederle, Austria
Makena Onjerika, Kenya
Amir Or, Israel
Peter Pabisch, Germany
PEN International
PEN Austria
Claudia Piñeiro, Argentina
David Remnick, USA
Jacques Rupnik, France
Alberto Ruy Sánchez, Mexico
Karina E. Sainz Borgo, Venezuela/ Spain
Alejandro Sanchez Aizcorbe, Peru
Amalia Sanz, Argentina
Jenny Schon, Germany
Eduardo Sguiglia, Argentina
Mark Shepard, USA
Mikhail Shishkin, Russia/ Switzerland
Ostap Slyvynsky, Ukraine
Alawiya Sobh, Lebanon
Piotr Sommer, Poland
Wole Soyinka, Nigeria/ USA
Guido Steinberg, Germany
Studio Khaled Barakeh
Biyu Suárez de Jaldín, Bolivia
Janne Teller, Denmark
Ma Thida, Myanmar
Stephan Thome, Germany
Jarkko Tontti, Finland
Ekaterina Turchaninova, Russia
Faribā Vafī, Iran
Saskia Vogel, USA
Keto von Waberer, Germany
Monika Zgustova, Czech Republic

Participants

Austria

Organization: Grazer Autorinnen Autoren Versammlung
Location: Gebäudekomplex des alten Wiener AKH (Allgemeines Krankenhaus)
Time: 6 pm
Language: German

Germany

Organization: Bücherstube Klingler
Location: Schulstr. 6, 63512 Hainburg
Time: 7 pm
Language: German and English
Further Information

Organisation: Gottfried-Keller-Gymnasium
Teachers and pupils read texts by Salman Rushdie
Location: Gottfried-Keller-Gymnasium
Time: 10 to 12 am
Language: German

Organization: Logbuch
Rainer Iwersen reads texts by Salman Rushdie
Location: Vegesacker Str. 1, 28219 Bremen
Time: 7.30 pm
Language: German
Further information

Organization: Humanistischer Verband Berlin Brandenburg und die Humanistische Akademie Berlin-Brandenburg
Location: Haus des Humanismus in der Potsdamerstrasse 157, 10783 Berlin
Time: 7.30 to 10 pm
Language: German and English
Further information

Italy

Organization: La Macchina Sognante and The Dreaming Machine
Location: Ubik-Irnerio bookstore Bologna
Time: 5.30 pm
Language: Italian and English

Organization: The American Academy in Rome
Location: Private
Language: English

Switzerland

Organization: Comédie de Genève
Location: Comédie de Genève, Foyer bas, Esplanade Alice-BAILLY 1, 1207 Genève
Time: 6 pm
Language: French
Further information

Organization: Freidenker-Vereinigung der Schweiz
Authors and Literary scholars present Rushdie’s work
Location: Literaturmuseum Strauhof, Augustinergasse 9, CH-8001 Zürich
Time: 7 pm
Language: German, English, Russian
Further information

The Netherlands

Organization: Akademie van Kunsten, part of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
Location: Livestream
Time: 1.30 pm to 9 pm
Language: Dutch
Further information

USA

Organization: Charles Bernstein and Pierre Joris
discussion and reading from the Satanic Verses
Location: Online
Time: available on September 29, 2022
Language: English

Organization: Gloucester Writers Center
Reading from the Satanic Verses
Location: on the steps of Gloucester City Hall on 9 Dale Avenue
Time: September 30, 2022, from 12.30 to 1 pm
Language: English