(NEW YORK)–Exactly one week after the brutal attack that left author Salman Rushdie with severe injuries, the New York literary community is rallying in solidarity with an outdoor event of readings from his acclaimed works on the steps of The New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue.

At 11 a.m. Friday PEN America, the free expression advocacy group of which Rushdie served as president; Penguin Random House, his publisher; the New York Public Library, and House of SpeakEasy will host Stand With Salman: Defend the Freedom to Write.” Selections from his books and writings will be read by authors close to Rushdie. Readers will include: Paul Auster, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Tina Brown, Kiran Desai, Andrea Elliott, Amanda Foreman, Roya Hakakian, A.M. Homes, Siri Hustvedt, Hari Kunzru, Colum McCann, Andrew Solomon, and Gay Talese (list in formation).

The hosts invite everyone who believes in the unfettered power of the written and spoken word and the freedom to speak and write to join them in person in New York or online through the event livestream:  https://pen.org/event/stand-with-salman/

Rushdie was stabbed multiple times last Friday by an assailant who rushed the stage at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York. He was scheduled to give a talk about the United States as a safe haven for exiled writers. Rushdie has suffered what his son has described as “life-changing” injuries and faces a long recovery. 

In addition to the Manhattan rally, the hosts are encouraging public readings around the globe as well as online with the hashtag #StandWithSalman to remind Rushdie of both the affection that writers and readers have for him and their solidarity with his unrelenting belief in the right of writers to create without fear of reprisal.

Rushdie’s fellow writers and his readers are coming to the event united in shock at the violent assault and with the desire to bolster his spirits and send wishes for his recovery and return to his writing, public speaking, and passionate advocacy in defense of free expression and writers facing repressing worldwide.

Suzanne Nossel, PEN America’s CEO, said: “Salman Rushdie is both an author of unmatched distinction, and a relentless champion for free expression, using his voice to support imperiled writers and intellectuals across the globe over decades. We are shaken to the core by this grievous assault, a reminder to us all that our rights and freedoms are more precarious than we wish to acknowledge.  The outpouring of support for Salman from leaders, friends, admirers and readers worldwide has the potential to fuel a watershed moment for the freedom to write, a cause that is synonymous with Salman’s life and work. We are gathering as friends, associates and admirers to amplify Salman’s words and convey our warm wishes, but also to rise in defense of principles that will not be extinguished by violence.”

Markus Dohle, CEO of Penguin Random House, said: “Salman Rushdie’s voice and literary works are inextricably tied to the advancement of freedom of expression, and the attack on him is a horrifying and unconscionable act of violence. As publishers, we have a collective responsibility to support writers whose books and ideas ensure an open and ever-evolving society. It is our honor to publish Salman’s prolific works, and to stand with him and the entire literary community as we remind the world of the power—and necessity—of the written word.”

The celebrated author of The Satanic Verses, Midnight’s Children, and The Moor’s Last Sigh, and one the great champions of freedom of expression and the freedom to write over the last half century, Rushdie was marked for death and forced into hiding for a decade by Iranian theocrats more than 30 years ago after publication of his novel The Satanic Verses, which centers on references in the Quran.

Emerging from seclusion in the early 2000s, he became a tireless advocate for imperiled writers, for free thought and open discourse, and for unfettered intellectual and creative exchange across borders– the central ideas of PEN America’s mission since 1922. As PEN America’s President from 2004-2006, in the wake of 9/11, Rushdie founded the World Voices Festival, the premier celebration of international literature in the United States, which takes place every spring in New York City and Los Angeles.

Recently, Rushdie has told interviewers that as a New Yorker he had found relative normalcy over the last decade and a half. With his wit, charm and intellectual power, he has become a treasured figure in the city’s literary circles and gatherings.

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, STrimel@PEN.org, 201-247-5057