Monday, 31 October 2011

Jiří Gruša, già Presidente del PEN International, non è più tra di noi.

Riporto di seguito la lettera di Laura McVeigh, Direttore Esecutivo del PEN International, in ricordo di Jiří Gruša. Personalmente lo ricordo come un uomo semplice - nonostante le alte cariche ricoperte - e di sottile umorismo. Eccolo durante uno dei suoi ultimi readings alla Fiera del Libro di Ostrava nel giugno 2011.

PEN International deeply saddened by death of former International President, Jiří Gruša.

"Persecuted and imprisoned for his beliefs, Jiří Gruša was the living embodiment of PEN's devotion to freedom of expression and literature. He was beloved by all of us and we will miss him." - John Ralston Saul, PEN International President

Jiří Gruša served as President of PEN International from 2003-2009. He will be remembered by all at PEN for his love of literature and his committed promotion of the ideals of PEN. Speaking of his role as International President he described his focus as: "My priorities are communication and openness. It is important to stress that freedom of expression is actually freedom from hatred."

A well-respected Czech writer and diplomat, Jiří Gruša demonstrated great bravery and quiet determination throughout his life. He was persecuted by the communist regime in response to his novel Mimner in 1969 and was arrested in 1978 following his novel The Questionnaire. He protested against the totalitarian regime of of the former Czechoslovakia, signing up in 1977 to Charter 77. Since the 1990s he held a diplomatic and political career as Czechoslovak and then Czech Ambassador to Germany and Austria and subsequently as Education Minister in the Czech Republic.

"He was a champion all his life for freedom of expression. It is a great loss to all of us." - Hori Takeaki, PEN International Secretary

He died aged 72 on Friday October 28th during heart surgery in Germany.

Our thoughts and condolences are with his wife Sabine, all his friends and family and with our colleagues in Czech PEN at this time.

Laura McVeigh

Executive Director

PEN International

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