Fiction, fatwa and fear: writing after The Satanic Verses

Thursday 26 September, 7.15pm until 9.00pm, Déda, 19 Chapel St, Derby DE1 3GU UK Satellite Events 2013

26 September 2013 sees the 25th anniversary of the publication of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. Rushdie has argued it could not be published today. Have publishers become cowardly and writers taken to consciously or unconsciously engaging in self-censorship? The furore over the publication of Monica Ali’s Brick Lane or more recently of Sherry Jones’ The Jewel of Medina showed the politically correct watchdogs in the academy are at the forefront of the modern literary censorship as much as any mad mullahs.

Despite the stand made by Penguin in defence of their freedom to publish, has the Rushdie Affair damaged a cherished literary freedom based on artistic judgements alone?

25 years on, after many thousands of articles and books on the Rushdie Affair and a knighthood for Rushdie himself there is an uneasy avoidance of the challenges to literary freedom and freedom of speech that the publication of The Satanic Verses provoked. Is it head in the sand time for commentators and critics and self-imposed quietude and conformism for writers, or can challenging and imaginative literary works still be written?

Jason Lee
novelist, critic and academic; latest novel, Spit Roast

Professor Constantine Sandis
professor of philosophy, University of Hertfordshire

Jasvinder Sanghera
chief executive, Karma Nirvana; author, Shame

Farhana Shaikh
editor, Asian Writer

John Siddique
poet, essayist and author; author, Full Blood

Brian Winston
Lincoln Professor, University of Lincoln; author, A Right to Offend: free expression in the twenty-first century

Professor Dennis Hayes
professor of education, University of Derby

Produced by
Professor Dennis Hayes professor of education, University of Derby
Dr Vanessa Pupavac associate professor; co-director of the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice, University of Nottingham
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