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Freedom to Create Virtual Gala and Keynote

Friday, October 9, 2020 @ 6:30 PM - 8 PM
Purchase Tickets 2020-10-09 6:30 PM 2020-10-09 8 PM America/New_York Freedom to Create Virtual Gala and Keynote - Alphabet City

Help us celebrate the Freedom to Create at our annual fundraising Gala and Keynote event! We are honored to feature renowned authors and founders of the Cities of Asylum movement Salman Rushdie and Russell Banks as this year’s keynote speakers.

Although this year’s event will take place virtually, there will still be an opportunity to celebrate together with other friends and supporters of City of Asylum.  The gala component of the evening will feature intimate zoom “tables” and a chance to spend some time with a well known author. You will also experience a special version of our placard ceremony led by Russell Banks.

The keynote presentation will start with a conversation between Rushdie and Banks about the Cities of Asylum movement. This will be followed by Rushdie reading from his most recent novel, Quichotte. The evening will wrap up with the world premiere of a new composition written by saxophonist Oliver Lake to a text from Rushdie’s Quichotte in honor of the occasion and performed by the Flux string quartet.

For more information on ticket pricing and benefits, please click on the “More Information” button above. We hope you’ll join us for this important moment to reflect on our mission and celebrate freedom of expression.


Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie is the author of thirteen novels, including, Grimus, Midnight’s Children (which was awarded the Booker Prize in 1981), and The Satanic Verses. His most recent work, Quichotte, was published in the Fall of 2019. Rushdie is also the author of a book of stories, East, West, and four works of non-fiction. His books have been translated into over forty languages.

A Fellow of the British Royal Society of Literature, Salman Rushdie has received, among other honors, the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel (twice), the Writers’ Guild Award, the James Joyce award of University College Dublin, the Carl Sandburg Prize of the Chicago Public Library, and a U.S. National Arts Award. He holds honorary doctorates and fellowships at six European and six American universities. Currently, Rushdie is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University.

Between 2004 and 2006 he served as President of PEN American Center and for ten years served as the Chairman of the PEN World Voices International Literary Festival, which he helped to create. In 2008 he became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was named a Library Lion of the New York Public Library. Rushdie is a member of the North American founding board of City of Asylum Pittsburgh.

Russell Banks

A prolific writer of fiction, Russell Banks’s many titles include The Darling, The Sweet Hereafter, Affliction, Lost Memory of Skin, and a collection of short stories titled A Permanent Member of the Family. He is also the author of Dreaming Up America, a collection of essays originally published in France. Banks has contributed poems, stories, and essays to The Boston Globe Magazine, Vanity Fair, The New York Times Book Review, Esquire, Harper’s and numerous others. His works have been widely translated and published in Europe and Asia.

His novels, Affliction and The Sweet Hereafter, were adapted into feature films which received widespread critical acclaim. In 2019 Banks wrote the libretto for an opera titled Harmony with music composed by Robert Carl which will premiere in summer 2021 at the Seagle Music Colony in Schroon Lake NY.

Russell Banks has received numerous awards, including the Ingram Merrill Award, the John Dos Passos Award, the St. Lawrence Book Award, and the Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Banks was New York State Author from 2004 to 2008, and in 2014 he was inducted into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from seven colleges and universities. Banks was president of the International Parliament of Writers and founder of the Cities of Refuge North America. He is also a founding board member of City of Asylum Pittsburgh.

Event Details

October 9, 2020 @ 6:30 PM - 8 PM
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