Rushdie remains hospitalized with multiple wounds to his neck, stomach, thigh, chest, and right eye, which he may lose. According to statements from his family and his literary agent, Rushdie faces a long and difficult “road to recovery,” but his condition is at least moving “in the right direction.”
Support for Rushdie has come from around the world and across the spectrum: the President and Secretary of State of the United States, the Prime Ministers of Great Britain and Australia, and of course the literary world.
This Friday at 11 a.m. Eastern time, more than a dozen writers will assemble on the steps of the New York Public Library on 5th and 42nd to “Stand with Salman: Defend the Freedom to Write.” This event is organized by our friends at PEN America, along with the NYPL, Penguin Random House, and House of Speakeasy. Writers scheduled to read include Paul Auster, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Kiran Desai, A. M. Homes, Siri Hustvedt, Hari Kunzru, Colum McCann, Andrew Solomon, and Gay Talese, along with many others.
If you can’t join these writers in Manhattan Friday morning, PEN America encourages you to “Stand with Salman” by—
- Hosting a public reading of Salman Rushdie’s work in your community.
- Posting your own home video reading a quick passage of Rushdie’s work; make sure to use #StandWithSalman and tag us @penamerica.
- Following our live coverage @PENamerica on Twitter.
PEN America’s NYPL event will be livestreamed, as well, with those details to come. NCWN staff—and, we hope, many members—will be posting our own videos of ourselves reading Rushdie’s work.
But according to Henry Reese—the founder of City of Asylum, and the interviewer who was attacked along with Rushdie last week—the best way to Stand with Salman is to “go out and buy a book by Salman Rushdie this week and read it.” Novelist Randy Boyagoda made the same argument in The Atlantic the day after the attack. Millions of people have heeded this call: Rushdie’s books, especially his seminal novels The Satanic Verses and Midnight’s Children, are “selling like hotcakes,” in LitHub’s words.
If you’d like to delve deeper into Rushdie’s work, here are a few of my favorites:
- The Moor’s Last Sigh, the 1995 novel that sparked by Rushdie fandom, as I wrote last week
- East, West, a 1994 short story collection that ranges across genres as much as continents, from rural India to the heart of London, from satirizing Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy to chronicling the heartbreaking end of both a marriage and 1960s idealism
- Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism, 1981 – 1991 and/or Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction, 1992-2002, both of them insights into Rushdie’s ongoing explorations
- The Enchantress of Florence, a sprawling novel, equally erotic and philosophical, set in both India and Italy in and around the 16th century
I’m now about a third of the way through Two Years, Eight Months, & Twenty-Eight Nights, and enjoying it so far. Rushdie’s 21st-century work can be uneven. We’ll see if this one holds up to the end.
(Bonus: Whatever you do, don’t read his 2001 novel Fury, one of the bleakest, pettiest break-up novels in the English language, which is really saying something.)
Rushdie is worthy to be read, obviously, but he also is . . . well, obvious—already rich, famous, and honored. May I suggest that for every one of his books you buy or check out, you also buy, order, or check out a book by one of the many other contemporary authors who have written about immigration and migration, or who have faced persecution, attack, arrest? A good bookseller or librarian can point you in the right direction, and PEN America keeps a (tragically long) Writers at Risk Database.
However you choose to do it, though, we hope you will stand with us as we Stand With Salman, and with the right to free and honest expression.