Salman Rushdie receives first-ever ‘Lifetime Disturbing the Peace Award’

At 76, Rushdie, recipient of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade last month, found himself receiving another accolade, reflecting on the irony of being awarded for disturbing the peace. He pondered which side of the fence this placed him on.

Livemint (with inputs from AP)
Updated15 Nov 2023
Author Salman Rushdie receives the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation's first-ever Lifetime Achievement Disturbing the Peace Award at the Vaclav Havel Center on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023, in New York.
Author Salman Rushdie receives the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Disturbing the Peace Award at the Vaclav Havel Center on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023, in New York.(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

World-renowned author Salman Rushdie has been awarded the first-ever 'Lifetime Disturbing the Peace Award' by the Vaclav Havel Center on November 14, AP reported. This was Rushdie's surprise public appearance since he was stabbed during a literary festival in New York in August 2022.

Rushdie Reflects on Awards and Influence

Rushdie's appearance was unexpected as barely a handful of the 100 attendees were aware of his presence, AP added. Announced by Azar Nafisi, the author of 'Reading Lolita in Tehran', Rushdie said, "I apologize for being a mystery guest. I don’t feel at all mysterious. But it made life a little simpler."

At 76, Rushdie, recipient of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade last month, found himself receiving another accolade, reflecting on the irony of being awarded for "disturbing the peace." He pondered which side of "the fence" this placed him on.

Also Read: Salman Rushdie’s new novel is an ode to storytelling and freedom

During his speech, Rushdie lauded Vaclav Havel, a close friend and an influential figure who supported him when he was forced into hiding following Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's 1989 decree against his novel, 'The Satanic Verses'. Describing Havel as a hero who balanced artistry with activism, Rushdie expressed deep honor in receiving an award in Havel's name.

The ceremony, hosted by veteran CBS journalist Lesley Stahl, took place at the Havel Center, previously known as the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation. This center, established in 2012 to perpetuate Havel's legacy, focuses on advocating for human rights and free expression.

Honouring Abdel-Fattah's Courage Amidst Adversity

Meanwhile, the 'Disturbing the Peace Award to a Courageous Writer at Risk' was conferred upon Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah. Despite being imprisoned, Abdel-Fattah remains a symbol of resistance against Egypt's authoritarian regime.

Also Read | ‘Have to deal with it’: Salman Rushdie to write a book on losing eyesight in knife attack

Accepting the award on behalf of her incarcerated nephew, acclaimed author Adhaf Soueif revealed Abdel-Fattah's gratitude, particularly for the award's name, "Disturbing the Peace." She mentioned, "He's very grateful. This really tickled him."

Abdel-Fattah, turning 42 soon, gained international recognition during the 2011 pro-democracy uprisings in the Middle East. His repeated imprisonments under Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's presidency symbolize the ongoing struggle against autocratic rule in Egypt.

The event drew the presence of numerous writers and diplomats, emphasising the significance of acknowledging individuals dedicated to preserving free speech and human rights in the face of adversity.

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