Because Salman Rushdie wrote The Satanic Verses, Iran's Ayatolla Khomeini tried to kill him by putting a $5,000,000 reward on his head. This was in the 1980s, when I was still a young poet, and it was the first time I had heard his name. I was deeply shocked.
Even though I cannot cross the ocean to New York, I am extremely honored to receive a second invitation from such a brave writer. Although the state has shackled me and banned me from coming, although though my friends Ran Yunfei, Liu Xiaobo, and Ai Weiwei are currently suffering, I would like to say this to all the writers of the New York literary festival who speak out for me: even though we cannot meet, our hearts are together forever.
On a certain occasion in Norway in 2010, there was empty chair for my old friend Liu Xiaobo. I can only hope that my writings and my testimony on China's history and current situation are also worthy of an empty chair at your opening ceremonies.
Thank you all.
Chinese Writer: Liao Yiwu
On April 27, 2011, Salman Rushdie responded to Liao Yiwu's letter.