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Salman Rushdie receives first-ever Lifetime Disturbing the Peace Award

by Gabriel Martinez
5 comments
Lifetime Disturbing the Peace Award

Salman Rushdie was awarded the inaugural Lifetime Disturbing the Peace Award in a surprise ceremony at the Vaclav Havel Center on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The event was attended by over 100 guests, with only a select few having prior knowledge of Rushdie’s presence. This secrecy was maintained due to the author’s limited public appearances following a violent attack in August 2022 during a literary festival in Western New York.

In his acceptance speech, Rushdie expressed his apologies for being an enigmatic guest but asserted that he did not feel mysterious himself. He mentioned that this discreet approach had simplified his life in some ways.

The Vaclav Havel Center, initially established in 2012 as the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation, is dedicated to upholding the legacy of the Czech playwright and dissident Vaclav Havel. Havel, who became the last president of Czechoslovakia following the collapse of the Communist regime in the late 1980s, was renowned for his advocacy of human rights and free expression. The ceremony, which celebrated Rushdie’s achievements, was attended by numerous notable writers and diplomats and was hosted by the long-time CBS journalist Lesley Stahl.

In addition to Rushdie’s recognition, Alaa Abdel-Fattah, an imprisoned Egyptian activist, received the Disturbing the Peace Award for a Courageous Writer at Risk. Abdel-Fattah’s aunt, the acclaimed author and translator Adhaf Soueif, accepted the award on his behalf. She conveyed his gratitude and mentioned that he was particularly amused by the name of the award, “Disturbing the Peace.”

Abdel-Fattah rose to international prominence during the 2011 pro-democracy uprisings in the Middle East that led to the ousting of Egypt’s long-standing President Hosni Mubarak. Subsequently, he faced multiple imprisonments under the presidency of Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, becoming a symbol of the ongoing autocratic rule in Egypt.

During his acceptance speech, the 76-year-old Rushdie humorously remarked on the irony of recently receiving the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade and now being honored with a prize for “disturbing the peace.” He playfully pondered which side of “the fence” he found himself on.

Rushdie dedicated a significant portion of his speech to praising Vaclav Havel, whom he considered a personal hero and a close friend. He remembered Havel as one of the first government leaders to defend him when he went into hiding following Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s 1989 decree condemning him to death for alleged blasphemy in his novel “The Satanic Verses.” Rushdie lauded Havel’s ability to be both an artist and an activist simultaneously and expressed deep gratitude for receiving an award bearing Havel’s name, considering it a tremendous honor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Lifetime Disturbing the Peace Award

Who received the Lifetime Disturbing the Peace Award at the Vaclav Havel Center?

Salman Rushdie received the inaugural Lifetime Disturbing the Peace Award at the Vaclav Havel Center in New York City.

What is the Vaclav Havel Center known for?

The Vaclav Havel Center, originally established as the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation, is renowned for promoting the legacy of Vaclav Havel, the Czech playwright, and dissident who became the last president of Czechoslovakia after the fall of the Communist regime. It focuses on advocating for human rights and free expression.

Why was Salman Rushdie’s presence kept secret?

Salman Rushdie’s presence was kept secret due to limited public appearances following a violent attack in August 2022 during a literary festival in Western New York.

Who introduced Salman Rushdie at the award ceremony?

The acclaimed author Azar Nafisi, known for “Reading Lolita in Tehran,” introduced Salman Rushdie at the award ceremony.

What was the significance of Alaa Abdel-Fattah receiving an award at the ceremony?

Alaa Abdel-Fattah, an imprisoned Egyptian activist, received the Disturbing the Peace Award for a Courageous Writer at Risk. His imprisonment and activism symbolize the challenges of continued autocratic rule in Egypt.

How did Salman Rushdie react to receiving the Lifetime Disturbing the Peace Award?

Salman Rushdie humorously remarked on the irony of receiving both the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade and the Lifetime Disturbing the Peace Award, playfully pondering which side of “the fence” he found himself on.

Who did Salman Rushdie praise in his acceptance speech?

Salman Rushdie dedicated a significant portion of his speech to praising Vaclav Havel, whom he considered a personal hero and a close friend. He highlighted Havel’s role in defending him when he went into hiding following threats related to his novel “The Satanic Verses.”

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5 comments

LiteraryCritic November 15, 2023 - 12:39 pm

Rushdie praising Havel – heartwarming! These awards sound interesting, though the names are quite contradictory.

Reply
Reader007 November 15, 2023 - 4:15 pm

Salman Rushdie’s award? Wow! Vaclav Havel Center – that’s someplace! I heard bout his attack – scary stuff. Hope Alaa Abdel-Fattah gets out soon!

Reply
BookLover82 November 16, 2023 - 2:11 am

Rushdie’s such an icon, right? Love his books. Wonder what he meant by “the fence” though.

Reply
CuriousMind November 16, 2023 - 2:24 am

Who’s Vaclav Havel? Need to look that up.

Reply
NewsHound33 November 16, 2023 - 4:42 am

This event is a big deal! Can’t believe it was kept secret. Havel Center, serious business.

Reply

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