Salman Rushdie to appear at Charleston festival

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A CONTROVERSIAL author is to appear at a festival later this year.

Charleston Festival has been announced – with literary giant Salman Rushdie, fellow Booker Prize-winning novelist Bernardine Evaristo and the “world’s most famous feminist” Gloria Steinem taking centre stage.

Now in its 31st year, the Charleston Festival is one of the oldest and most prestigious literary festivals in the world.

Staged across ten days each May, the festival “celebrates the creative and intellectual curiosity, radicalism and openness” of Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Virginia Woolf and the artists, writers and thinkers of the Bloomsbury group who all gathered at Charleston in the first half of the 20th century.

Master storyteller Salman Rushdie returns to Charleston Festival for the first time in more than a decade to discuss his life and work.

A festival spokesman said: “Just as Miguel de Cervantes wrote Don Quixote to satirise the culture of his time, Rushdie’s latest novel, Quichotte, takes the reader on a wild ride through a country on the verge of moral and spiritual collapse told with the kind of storytelling magic that is the hallmark of his work.”

In 1989 Iran’s religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini pronounced a death sentence on Salman Rushdie for “insulting” Islam with his novel The Satanic Verses.

The novel was widely considered blasphemous in the Muslim world. Rushdie himself was forced into hiding for nearly ten years.

An import ban was placed on the book in India and the controversy sparked huge debate about freedom of speech.

Activist, academic and award-winning writer Bernardine Evaristo explores both heritage and modern life in her considerable body of work, shedding new light on what it means to be British. She has described her 2019 Booker Prize-winning novel, Girl, Woman, Other, as “fusion fiction” and her writing spans an enormous range of genres, from novels to poetry, verse fiction, short fiction, essays and literary criticism to radio and theatre drama.

Since her early days as a journalist and feminist activist in the late 1960s, Gloria Steinem’s words heave helped generations to empower themselves and work together. Now, in a rare visit to the UK, the feminist icon comes to Charleston Festival for the first time to speak about her latest book, The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off!: Thoughts on Life, Love and Rebellion.

Susannah Stevenson, artistic director, Charleston Festival, said: “I am thrilled to be able to share the names of the first speakers taking part in Charleston Festival 2020. The creativity, impact and innovation of Salman Rushdie, Bernardine Evaristo and Gloria Steinem’s work rings true with the spirit of the Bloomsbury Group and highlights the importance of challenging the status quo in valuable spaces for discussion like Charleston.”

Charleston has also announced details of its new under-30s ticket scheme.

For the first time, festival goers aged under 30 will have the chance to snap up tickets for just £10 when 1,000 tickets across all Charleston Festival events are released.

The full festival line-up will be announced on Tuesday.

Priority booking for Charleston Festival opens to Friends and Supporters on Wednesday, February 26, with tickets released on general sale on Thursday, March 5.

The festival at the house near Lewes runs from May 15 to May 25.


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