Four writers whose work has been suppressed and whose lives have been threatened spent Banned Books Week on a three-city solidarity tour that included public presentations, meetings with students, social events, and other activities.
“DISSIDENCE: Exiled Writers on Resistance and Risk” featured Algerian novelist Anouar Rahmani, Nigerian essayist Pwaangulongii Dauod, Russian poet Dmitry Bykov, and Nicaraguan political cartoonist Pedro X. Molina. Each was forced to flee his home country under threat of violence and censorship and each found safe haven in a City of Asylum in the United States. Learn more about the writers here.
Rahmani is writer-in-residence with City of Asylum Pittsburgh and Dauod fills the same role with City of Asylum Detroit. Bykov is currently the guest writer with Ithaca City of Asylum (ICOA) and Molina was ICOA’s artist-in-residence from 2018–2021. The tour was jointly organized by the three Cities of Asylum and supported by a grant from Cornell University’s Migrations Global Grand Challenge and the Mellon Foundation’s Just Futures Initiative.
An estimated 60 people attended the “DISSIDENCE” event at Trinosophes in Detroit on Friday, September 16. On Monday, September 19, 157 people attended a presentation at Alphabet City in Pittsburgh, with 72 participating in person and the rest joining online. A total of 132 people attended three presentations in Ithaca, including one at Ithaca College on Thursday, September 22; another at Cornell University on Friday, September 23; and a third that evening at the Community School of Music and Arts (CSMA).
The CSMA event was also a celebration of ICOA’s 20th anniversary, delayed one year by the COVID pandemic. Current board chair Gail Holst-Warhaft, co-founder Bridget Meeds, and Rachel Beatty Riedl, director of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell, all gave brief remarks.
The Detroit-based quarterly literary journal Three Fold published a ““dossier” featuring the four writers’ work in its Fall 2022 issue. The Ithaca Times and Cornell Chronicle published articles about the tour.