To take the Palestinian side is to risk your career in cultured Europe. (Spring 2024)

“The prominent Austrian literary organizations Literaturfest Salzburg and Literaturhaus NÖ have cancelled Lana Bastašić’s upcoming residency and reading…” Earlier in the month, the Bosnian-Serb writer had cut her links with her German publisher – S.Fischer – because of their silence in the face of the attacks on Gaza.

Ms. Bastasic responded to the actions of the two distinguished Literary bodies as follows:

“For the sake of truth and transparency, I would like to remind you that the interest was yours, given that you invited me. Your decision to uninvite me is a clear positioning on your part. Let it also be clear that this is a cancellation of a residency and an event we previously agreed on, based solely on my decision to leave a publisher. It is my political and human opinion that children should not be slaughtered and that German cultural institutions should know better when it comes to genocide. You should also know that you have now added yourselves to the long and infamous list of cultural institutions which cancel artists who refuse to stay silent when the world is screaming.

I do not know what literature means to you outside of networking and grants. To me it means, first and foremost, an unwavering love for human beings and the sanctity of human life. Given that you invited me to your residency and festival, you must have been acquainted with my work, which deals closely with the consequences war has on children. Perhaps to you literary works are divorced from real life, but then again you probably have never known war fist hand.

Thank you for uninviting me. I would not want to be part of another institution which not only cancels artists because of their activism, but seems to think silence and censorship is the right answer to genocide. While I am aware of the fact that the funding you receive within the system you inhabit must have made you forgetful of what art really is about, I still want to remind you that (fortunately for precarious writers like myself), you are not Literature. Your money is not Literature. S. Fischer is not Literature. Germany is not Literature. And we, the writers, will remember. Lana Bastašić