What's been bugging me is how there were still 66 "star" authors scheduled to attend, and I was so angry that no one was standing up and saying it was wrong.
So Thank you, Margaret Atwood!
Atwood drops Dubai festival
Canadian author Margaret Atwood has pulled out of the Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature after the Dubai-based fair's decision to pull a book that refers to a gay relationship.
Penguin, which had planned to launch Geraldine Bedell's "The Gulf Between Us" at the event, was informed in September it could not launch the book at the fair, which is due to open on 26th February, because it was anticipated that the book would not get past the censor.
The rest of the article is here.
Margaret's letter to the festival explaining why she will not attend is on her website, here.
I know that we in the West struggle with these issues. Should we engage as much as these restrictive societies allow us, accepting their limits on free speech, in the belief that it will help OPEN their society up eventually?
Google believes so - witness their approach in China.
But when a particular minority (like us Gays) are targeted with such intolerance - the mere MENTION of the gay characters in the book!!! - I'm glad SOMEONE had the balls to stand up and say - I'm not going to be a party to this. I'm not going to let you use my fame and prestige to pass off your "international festival of literature" as something truly international and diverse when it has no interest in being worldly or tolerant or inclusive.
As the author of the banned book wrote on her blog:
"Can you have a literary festival and ban books because they feature gay characters? Is that what being part of the contemporary literary scene means? The organisers claim to be looking for an exchange of ideas – but not, apparently, about sex or faith. That doesn't leave literature an awful lot of scope."So hurray for Margaret Atwood. She's been lauded as a "Civil Liberties Hero Of The Week!"
And here's hoping Geraldine Bedell's book is a huge success.
And shame on Dubai's Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature.
What do you think? Engagement or Boycott? What's the right response?