Dala, one of the featured writers at the Time of the Writer Festival taking place in Durban from 16 to 21 March, was assaulted a day after expressing her admiration for the writing style of Salman Rushdie.

On Wednesday, 18 March, Dala's car was followed from the festival hotel and she was harassed by three men in a vehicle who forced her to stop. She was hit in the face with a brick and called "Rushdie's bitch".

She has been treated by her doctor and has reported the incident to the police.

Dala believes that the attack occurred as a result of a comment she made during a writing forum for schools at the Chatsworth Education Centre. Dala, when asked which writers she admired, answered that she liked Salman Rushdie's literary style. A group of teachers and learners left the forum.

Steve Connolly, Managing Director of Penguin Random House in South Africa, says: "We condemn completely the brutish attack on author ZP Dala. Her crime? To have expressed her admiration for the writing of Salman Rushdie, which heralded a walk-out by teachers and students. Have we reached such a state of intolerance that we cannot listen to one writer profess admiration for another without wanting to attack her with a brick and a knife? If our constitution is to mean anything we must ensure our right to free speech."

Dala's debut novel, What About Meera, was published in March by Umuzi.
 For more information, contact Fourie Botha FBotha@penguinrandomhouse.co.za / 021 460 5400.

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**This is a Press Release and unaltered in any way.