Philip Roth, Zadie Smith, J M Coetzee, Margaret Atwood, Martin Amis, Jonathan Franzen and Anne Tyler are among 65 leading writers joining with PEN America in an open letter to President Donald Trump, urging him to reconsider his travel ban against visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The letter calls on Trump to rescind the relevant Executive Order “and refrain from introducing any alternative measure that similarly impairs freedom of movement and the global exchange of arts and ideas.”
The highly prominent writers warn Trump that among the travel ban’s effects, it ”hindered the free flow of artists and thinkers – and did so at a time when vibrant, open intercultural dialogue is indispensable in the fight against terror and oppression.”
The French poet Adonis, of Syrian extraction, may not be able to attend the May 2017 PEN World Voices Festival in New York, the letter points out, saying: “Preventing international artists from contributing to American cultural life will not make America safer, and will damage its international prestige and influence. Not only will such a policy prevent great artists from performing but it will constrict the interchange of important ideas, isolating the US politically and culturally.”
“Arts and culture have the power to enable people to see beyond their difference. Creativity is an antidote to isolationism, paranoia, misunderstanding, and violent intolerance,” the letter says.
Also among the 65 signatories are Colm Toibin, Hanya Yanagihara, Jhumpa Lahiri, Claire Messud, Siri Hustvedt, Paul Auster and Dave Eggers, as well as artist Anish Kapoor, composer Stephen Sondheim and musician Roseanne Cash.