Burhan Sönmez received the 2017 Disturbing the Peace Award at the Bohemian National Hall in New York, on September 28, 2017.
Vaclav Havel Library Foundation
“Disturbing the Peace” Award
28th September 2017, Thursday
Bohemian National Hall, NY
It is a great honor to receive the “Disturbing the Peace” award. I would like to thank Vaclav Havel Library Foundation and the jury for choosing me to receive this honor.
I know, this award is not given to a writer, rather it is given to an idea. It is the idea of freedom. There are so many writers, all around the world, who are being persecuted, censored, or killed. I am here to be the voice of those writers.
We live today with the treasure of memories from our past and with the beauty of dreams that belong to the future. We shall not allow any power or any politics to distort our memories or commercialize our dreams. It is where the literature grows.
We may lose our pen, our courage, we may even lose our hope sometimes. But there shall always be a dream twinkling on the horizon. That dream may have different colors across the world; the color of faceless women in Afghanistan, the color of Turkish and Kurdish journalists and teachers in prison, the color of the Rohingya children in a camp, or the color of humiliated blacks in Charlottesville.
All colors are the same and portray one story. It is the story of our times. It is a story expressed through our literature. There is no national language in literature. We all belong to the same global ocean. Dostoevsky, Pablo Neruda and Toni Morrison write with the same words that we all understand. That is the beauty of literature.
We sometimes need to disturb the peace in order to be able to protect this beauty. Havel did that, Martin Luther King did that, Gandhi did that. From time to time we may have to pay a price. It is a price that is worth the beauty of literature and freedom.