By Jenny Tobien, dpa
Salman Rushdie, who has been one of the world’s most celebrated authors since the publication of his 1981 novel “Midnight’s Children,” is this year’s winner of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.
The 76-year-old, who was seriously injured in an assassination attempt last year, will receive the prestigious award this autumn in Frankfurt’s St. Paul’s Church, the German Publishers and Booksellers Association said on Monday.
The Indian-born British author is being honoured for “his indomitable spirit, for his affirmation of life and for enriching our world with his love of storytelling,” the jury report reads.
“His work chronicles the force used by oppressive regimes to destroy entire societies while also celebrating the indestructible spirit of resistance displayed by individual human beings,” it continued.
The author has lived under threat for his life since Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwah against him in 1989 for the “The Satanic Verses,” a novel which the cleric said insulted Islam.
In August 2022, Rushdi was the victim of a knife attack during a lecture in the United States. He has been blind in one eye ever since. The author is currently writing a book about the attack.
Despite the physical and psychological consequences, he continues to write “with great imagination and deep humanity,” the jury statement reads.
“He remains one of the most passionate defenders of freedom of thought and speech – and not only his own, but also those of people whose views he does not share.”
“At great personal risk, he thus defends an essential condition of peaceful coexistence,” the jury added.
The author is “deeply honoured and grateful for this important award,” the foundation board quoted Rushdie as saying.
“I know how significant this prize is, and I’m a little overawed by the list of previous recipients, to whom my name will now be added. I’m truly delighted,” Rushdi said.
The winner of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade receives €25,000 ($27,000). It is awarded to individuals who have contributed to the realisation of the idea of peace in literature, science or art. Last year, the Ukrainian author Serhiy Zhadan was awarded the prize.
The German Publishers and Booksellers Association has awarded the prize since 1950. The honour is traditionally presented at the end of the Frankfurt Book Fair.
This year, the award ceremony is scheduled for October 22.