By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Rushdie: ‘The Free Exchange of Ideas’The traditional “Literature Gala” is scheduled to be held on Saturday evening October 21 at Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 18 to 22), and organizers have announced this morning (September 27) in Germany that Salman Rushdie will be on hand to speak.
This program, supported by ARD, ZDF, and 3sat, precedes the October 22 presentation to Rushdie of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, as Publishing Perspectives readers know. The award carries a purse of €25,000 (US$26,389).
At the Literature Gala, he’s expected to speak about his recently released novel Victory City (Penguin Random House, February). He last spoke at Frankfurt in 2015, when he gave the keynote comments at the trade show’s opening press conference.
In a statement today, Frankfurt president and CEO Juergen Boos has said, “I was very moved that Salman Rushdie is not missing the opportunity to meet the audience in Frankfurt in person, in addition to attending the award ceremony for the Peace Prize.
“It’s a great honor for me to welcome Salman Rushdie once again to Frankfurter Buchmesse.”
As you’ll remember, the stabbing attack on Rushdie at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York occurred on August 12, 2022. Dealing with severe injuries and the preparation of his new book, Rushdie has made very few public appearances since then, one of them in May in a videotaped message from New York for the British Book Awards.
His in-person appearance on October 21 in Frankfurt will also feature:
- Cornelia Funke, the children’s and young-adult author and creator of Inkheart series (originally titled in German Tintenherz)
- The Australian historian Sir Christopher Clark
- The Israeli writer and peace activist Lizzie Doron
- The novelist Thomas Hettche
- The Iranian writer Amir Gudarzi, who lives in exile
Hosts for the event are Thea Dorn of the ZDF program Das Literarische Quartett and Denis Scheck, a literary critic with ARD’s literary magazine Druckfrisch.
Rushdie will speak in English, as will Clark and Doron. Other parts of the show will be delivered in German.
In a Q&A with the Frankfurt team, Rushdie has said, “Frankfurter Buchmesse is one of the most important cultural forums in the Western world. When I have visited, it has made me feel extremely optimistic about the future of books–because at the fair we see an enormous and thriving industry.
“Its influence lies precisely in the free exchange of ideas, through books, between many cultures. Such exchanges are vital to social transformation, and to democracy.”
He also makes an interesting point about his view of the idea that literature holds a kind of responsibility in the world: “I resist the idea that writers have responsibilities,” he says. “The American Nobel laureate Saul Bellow once said, ‘We don’t have responsibilities, we have inspirations,’ and on the whole I agree with him.”
Tickets for the Literaturgala on October 21—the program begins at 7 p.m.—are here.
More from Publishing Perspectives on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, more on publishing and politics is here, more on the world’s international trade shows and book fairs is here, and more on Salman Rushdie and his work is here.