News June 30, 2017 at 09:00 am

Kenyan Author Ngugi Wa Thiong’o Pulls Out of Swedish Book Fair in Protest of Right Wing Publication

Mark Babatunde June 30, 2017 at 09:00 am

June 30, 2017 at 09:00 am | News

Ngugi said his actions were “in solidarity with other writers who have withdrawn from the book fair. Photo Credit: Pulse

Foremost Kenyan author and novelist Ngugi wa Thiong’o canceled plans to attend a Swedish book fair Wednesday to protest the invitation of a far right publication.

The 75-year-old author of “A Grain of Wheat” (1967) and “Petals of Blood” (1975) wrote an e-mail to his Swedish publisher Modernista to say he is pulling out of the annual Gothenburg Book Fair, according to the AFP.

In the e-mail, Ngugi said his actions were “in solidarity with the writers withdrawing and of course with the concerns behind their withdrawal.”

The Gothenburg Book Fair is considered the biggest book fair in all of Scandinavia, attracting around 100,000 visitors each year.

The 2017 edition will be held from September 28th to October 1st.

Organizers of the fair confirmed they have received notice of Ngugi’s cancellation, adding that they were in contact with the fierce critic of post-colonial Kenyan society who now lives in self-exile in Europe.

Standing in Solidarity

Ngugi wa Thiong'o

Photo credit: Gomel Today

On April 21st, more than 200 Swedish authors signed an article in Dagens Nyheter newspaper, saying they would boycott the Gothenburg Book Fair if Swedish far right newspaper Nya Tider is represented.

In addition, 12 European national institutes of culture, including those of Germany, France, Romania, Spain, Portugal, and more, sent an e-mail to book fair organizers Tuesday expressing their concern about Nya Tider’s attendance at the book fair.

Critics say Nya Tider, which has received state press subsidies since 2012, actively promotes far right and extremist ideology, including xenophobia, ethnocentrism, and an overwhelming opposition to migrants.

Fair organizers, though, have refused to budge on the issue.

“We believe that an open dialogue is the best way to beat forces involving intolerance, racism, and xenophobia,” Birgitta Jacobsson Ekblom, head of Communications for the fair said.

Last December, Nigerian born playwright and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wole Soyinka destroyed his U.S. green card and vowed never to return to the United States to protest the election of Donald Trump who ran a presidential campaign hinged on support from the so-called alt-right movement who promote extremist views, such as ultra-nationalism and racism.

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