Penguin Random House: #StandWithSalman- Literary Community Rallies in Solidarity of Revered Author

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Last Friday, August 19, on a sunny, late summer morning, writers and readers stood in solidarity with Salman Rushdie and advocated for freedom of expression on the steps of The New York Public Library. Stand with Salman, was hosted by Penguin Random House, PEN America, and the NYPL, along with partner organization, House of Speakeasy. Supporters of Rushdie and free speech alike, gathered with signs and held up books; as authors read from Rushdie’s body of work and shared personal memories of the author.


Suzanne Nossel, author and CEO of PEN America, opened the event and spoke of “the never-ending war on words”. Author Jeffrey Eugenides, remembered being a young writer in London and looking Rushdie up in a phone book to pay him a friendly visit. “That was the world we used to live in,” Eugenides reminisced. Author Hari Kunzru, read from the controversial and acclaimed The Satanic Verses, while author A.M. Homes read from Rushdie’s piece “On Censorship!” The piece, which ends with the declaration “Art is not entertainment. At its very best, it’s a revolution” was met with resounding applause.

Readers included: Paul Auster, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Tina Brown, Francesco Clemente, Kiran Desai, Andrea Elliott, Jeffrey Eugenides, Amanda Foreman, Roya Hakakian, A.M. Homes, Siri Hustvedt, Hari Kunzru, Aasif Mandvi, Colum McCann, Brent Reidy, Andrew Solomon, and Gay Talese.

A livestream allowed supporters of Salman Rushdie to tune in globally and @PENamerica encouraged readers to use #StandWithSalman to post videos of themselves reading their favorite passages from Rushdie’s work. So far, the hashtag is in use by bookstores, passionate readers and authors such as Bernard-Henri Lévy and Gillian Tett.

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