Paul Auster, Aasif Mandvi and others support Salman Rushdie with public readings
On the steps of New York Public Library, such prominent writers as Paul Auster, Gay Talese and Kiran Desai drew from Salman Rushdie's own words to express their solidarity with the 75-year-old after he was brutally attacked at a literary event in western New York.
"Not even a blade to the throat could still the voice of Salman Rushdie," Suzanne Nossel, chief executive officer of the event's co-organizer, PEN America, told the audience.
The group of writers shared their affection and admiration for Rushdie, decried the violence and assured him they would continue to defend freedom of expression.
Roya Hakakian described herself as an "avid reader of Salman, a fellow writer and an Iranian" who stands with him. She read from the first chapter of Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories called The Shah of Blah.
Jeffrey Eugenides told a story about the time, as a young fan of Rushdie's, he sought the author out, even going to his home in London. Eugenides told the crowd it was a time when "the only craziness visited upon a writer ... came from an overexuberant reader who showed up at his doorstep." He continued, "That world was called civilization. Let's try to hang on to it."
Rushdie remains in the hospital after an assailant stabbed him 12 times at a literary event at the Chautauqua Institution. According to his son, Rushdie suffered "life-changing" injuries.
Comedian Aasif Mandvi read from the author's forthcoming novel, Victory City. A.M. Holmes read from a lecture Rushdie gave on censorship at the PEN World Voices Festival in 2012. Paul Auster read from Joseph Anton: A Memoir, Rushdie's autobiography. Since Rushdie couldn't publish under his own name, he combined the first names of two of his literary heroes, Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov.
The event was called Stand with Salman: Defend the Freedom to Write.
Nossel said that Rushdie planned to watch the live stream from his hospital room. "At a time when book bans and lies and disinformation engulf our politics," said Nossel, "we must fight with vigor as if all our freedoms depend on it because they do."