PEN America Calls on LitProm to Reconsider Postponement of Shibli Award
Controversy at Frankfurt Book Fair around Award for Palestinian Writer
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(NEW YORK) – In response to the decision by the Frankfurt Book Fair to cancel its forthcoming award ceremony in honor of Palestinian writer Adania Shibli’s Minor Detail, Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf, Chief Program Officer, Literary Programming at PEN America said:
“PEN America is distressed that a Palestinian author is being denied an award meant to honor a diverse range of voices worldwide simply to avoid controversy. Any decision to not honor an author or their book due to their nationality sends the wrong message. LitProm should reconsider this move, and literary organizations worldwide should affirm their commitment to free expression and pluralism even amid conflict.”
On October 13, the literary organization LitProm, which gives out the annual LiBeraturpreis award to a female author from Africa, Asia, Latin America, or the Arab World, announced it was postponing the award ceremony from its original October 20 date due to “the war started by Hamas, under which millions of people in Israel and Palestine are suffering.” The decision was made without Shibli’s consent, despite the organization characterizing it originally as a joint one. In response, hundreds of writers joined an open letter opposing the decision, and a number of publishers and literary organizations from the Arab World withdrew from the book fair amid heavy criticism of LitProm’s postponement of the award and a statement that condemned the Hamas attack on Israel without acknowledging the Israeli government’s rights violations.
The decision comes as some jurisdictions in Germany move to broadly ban pro-Palestinian demonstrations after reports emerged of spontaneous celebrations supporting the Hamas attack against Israeli civilians, and as authors, publishers, and literary organizations come under increasing pressure to deplatform authors and books representing certain nationalities and viewpoints amid conflict.
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. To learn more visit PEN.org.