Threatened authors receive invitation to lecture at Swedish Academy

12th November 2008, Comments 0 comments

When literature meets the Mafia and Islamic fatwa, it is arguably a recipe that attracts the attention of the Nobel committee.

Stockholm -- Threatened Italian author Roberto Saviano and British-Indian author Salman Rushdie have accepted invitations to lecture at the Swedish Academy, the body that selects the Nobel literature prize said Tuesday.

Saviano and Rushdie are to speak Nov. 25 on the theme "Freedom of speech and lawless violence," after the academy extended the invitations last month.

Saviano's book Gomorra has antagonised the Mafia or Camorra, which is a secret society in Naples notorious for violence and blackmail. Saviano has been forced to live under police protection and in a recent newspaper interview said that he was considering leaving Italy.

Previously, Iran's religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 issued a death threat against Rushdie over his novel The Satanic Verses.

Khomeini's threat, proclaimed a fatwa -- a ruling on a point of Islamic law -- triggered a heated debate in the academy leading to a split vote.

To protest the academy's decision against condemning Saviano's death threat, two of the 18 members ceased actively working on the committee.

One of the protesting members, author Kerstin Ekman, wrote a letter to the Stockholm daily Expressen to urge the academy to condemn the threats against Saviano.

Nobel literature laureates Guenter Grass of Germany, Orhan Pamuk of Turkey and Italian Dario Fo have expressed support for Saviano, as have Peace Prize winners Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader.

The literature prize is one the prizes endowed by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite. French writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio won this year's award.

Nobel prizes achievement in the areas of medicine, physics, chemistry, and peace. The award ceremonies are held December 10, the anniversary of Nobel's 1896 death in San Remo, Italy.


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