British-American novelist Salman Rushdie poses on the PEN America 2023 Spring Literary Gala red carpet at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, New York, USA, 18 May 2023. EFE/EPA/FILE/SARAH YENESEL

Rushdie calls writing ‘a form of optimism’ after a difficult year

Frankfurt, Germany, Oct 20 (EFE).- The British-American writer of Indian origin Salman Rushdie defined writing as “a form of optimism” on Friday after a difficult year for him due to the attack he suffered in 2022, and also for the world due to the wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

“It has been a difficult year, but I am very happy to be back,” he said at a press conference at the Frankfurt Book Fair, two days before he was due to receive the German book trade’s Peace Prize.

Asked if one can remain optimistic in the face of all the things that are going on in the world, Rushdie said that writing books is always a form of optimism.

Writing books is a form of optimism, it’s dedicating years of your life to writing something and for that you need to believe that someone is going to read what you write, that implies optimism, he said.

Throughout the press conference, which took place with special security measures, Rushdie was asked questions on a variety of topics, from the war in Gaza to artificial intelligence to specific cases of persecution, as has been the case of Roberto Saviano in Italy or Arundhati Roy in India.

Regarding the war in Israel, he stressed on being against war as people die because of it, and that he was horrified by the actions of both Israel and Hamas.

Rushdie came to the defense of Saviano and Roy, who have been taken to court in their respective countries for their critical stances towards their own governments.

Saviano, he said, has been fined in the courts for his criticism of the government, which should not be the case, especially for a journalist.

As for Roy, Rushdie said taking one of the most important writers of India to court was a scandal, and was a sign of how the government dealt with those who thought differently from them.

Regarding artificial intelligence (AI), he said that, as for the danger of literary plagiarism, he wasn’t too worried.

He further gave the example of when he did an experiment asking AI to write 300 words like “Salman Rushdie,” the result was rubbish.

However, there is one aspect that does concern him, which is the ability of artificial intelligence to simulate images and imitate voices, because because of this it can be a “source of fake news.”

With regard to the burning of copies of the Quran such as those recently carried out in Scandinavian countries, he said that, although he was generally against burning books, he did not advocate that such protest should be prohibited by law. EFE