Jaipur Lit Fest: Hari Kunzru, Amitava Kumar read out from Rushdie's Satanic Verses
The organisers stepped in and asked the authors to not go ahead with the reading, and issued a press release later, distancing themselves from the incident.
Jaipur: Two prominent authors today read out portions from Salman Rushdie's banned book Satanic Verses at the Jaipur Literature Festival as a mark of protest after the India-born author had to pull out of the event over security concerns.
As the literary community expressed outrage over Rushdie not being able to make the trip, Hari Kunzru and Amitava Kumar used their session at the festival to read from Satanic Verses. The controversial book was banned in the country shortly after it was published in 1988, for allegedly hurting the sentiments of Muslims.
Just before his reading, Kunzru tweeted: "About to defy bigots and shoe throwers, reading @SalmanRushdie Satanic Verses on stage with @amitavakumar at #jaipur #jlf (sic)."
They also read out Rushdie’s tweet to the audience, in which he had thanked the two for reading from his work to a loud applause. The organisers later asked Kumar not to go ahead with his reading. Kumar initially agreed to the suggestion but later continued reading. Soon afterwards, authors Jeet Thayil and Ruchir Joshi said they too would read from the Satanic Verses.
A perturbed Rushdie later tweeted: "@amitavakumar says organisers asked him not to continue reading from Satanic Verses." Willie, Sanjoy: why did this happen?". He was referring to William Dalrymple and Sanjoy K Roy, the festival organisers. Rushdie again tweeted: "Joshi too said they would be reading from the Satanic Verses."
Following this, the organisers sent out a press release criticising the incident and distancing themselves from it. Read below:
This press release is being issued on behalf of the organizers of the Jaipur Literature Festival. It has come to their attention that certain delegates acted in a manner during their sessions today which were without the prior knowledge or consent of the organizers. Any views expressed or actions taken by these delegates are in no manner endorsed by the Jaipur Literature Festival. Any comments made by the delegates reflect their personal, individual views and are not endorsed by the Festival or attributable to its organizers or anyone acting on their behalf. The Festival organizers are fully committed to ensuring compliance of all prevailing laws and will continue to offer their fullest cooperation to prevent any legal violation of any kind. Any action by any delegate or anyone else involved with the Festival that in any manner falls foul of the law will not be tolerated and all necessary, consequential action will be taken. Our endeavor has always been to provide a platform to foster an exchange of ideas and the love of literature, strictly within the four corners of the law. We remain committed to this objective.
With inputs from PTI
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The renowned author dismisses litfests as part and parcel of "the three-ring circus of the tamasha culture." But he forgets that Indian writing is no longer the preserve of upper class authors living in an transnational ivory tower.
'Satanic Verses' sparked widespread outrage among Muslims and even led to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Supreme Leader of Iran, issuing a fatwa calling for Rushdie's death in 1989.
British author Salman Rushdie's memoir of more than nine years in hiding after Iran's supreme leader issued a death sentence against him hits the shelves on Tuesday, ending the wait for his account of a furore that has echoes across the world on Tuesday.