Amnesty International and Mainstream Publishing launch collection of short stories by some of the world's greatest fiction writers to mark 60 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Today at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Amnesty International and Mainstream Publishing will jointly launch a collection of short stories by top writers, to celebrate 60 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Collection – entitled Freedom: Short Stories celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- is a rich new selection of stories by some of the best writers of fiction in the world today.

The superb line-up of contributors includes award-winning writers from many different countries, some of whom have experienced human rights violations first-hand, all of whom have a distinct and powerful perspective on the importance of our human rights. They include: A.L. Kennedy, James Meek, Marina Lewycka, Joyce Carol Oates, Walter Mosley, David Mitchell, Ariel Dorfman, Amit Chaudhuri, Petina Gappah, Xiaolu Guo, Ali Smith, Kate Atkinson, Banana Yoshimoto, Helen Dunmore, Paulo Coelho, Chimanda Ngozi Adichie, Alan Garner, Henning Mankell, and many more. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has written a foreword to the collection and Andrew Motion has contributed a poem.

Each author has taken one of the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as inspiration for their story. All the contributors have donated their stories and all royalties will go to Amnesty International.

Freedom presents a provocative mix of stories that move, challenge, inspire and entertain. From the streets of Zimbabwe to the green spaces of Edinburgh, each author takes the reader on a unique and powerful journey, engaging us with the human rights issues on which Amnesty has campaigned for nearly 50 years.

On Thursday 27 August, at 17:30, Amnesty International and Mainstream Publishing will officially launch Freedom at a media reception to be held at the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, 5 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh. This launch will be followed, at 19:00, by an event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, where contributors Marina Lewycka and Xiaolu Guo will read from their stories and discuss their involvement in the project. (For information on press tickets, contact Fiona Atherton on the number below.)

Today, Iain MacGregor, Associate Publisher for Mainstream, said, ‘Mainstream Publishing has always prided itself on producing books that tap into the public consciousness and create discussion. Over thirty successful years. we have produced books with many high-profile organisations and brands, but none more so than Amnesty International. We are proud and honoured to be associated with such a world-famous and vital body, and to be promoting the work of so many talented writers from all over the world. And all for a very worthwhile cause -- supporting our basic human rights.’

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
‘Freedom is a remarkable and imaginative step forward in our work for human rights. Through the creative powers of some of the best writers in the world, we can engage readers’ imaginations with stories, characters and situations where our rights are at stake.

‘At Amnesty we work with real-life human stories every day of the year. Freedom is a wonderfully crafted literary acknowledgement of this work. And with stories set in such a diverse range of countries, by authors from all over the world, the book highlights one of the fundamentals of the UDHR – that human rights abuses anywhere are the concern of people everywhere. I hope that Freedom will help to show why the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is as relevant today as it was 60 years ago.’

Ariel Dorfman, who contributed a story to the collection, said:
‘It’s not only the pain. Not only the devastation. Every time that one of our human rights is violated, anywhere and everywhere, it constitutes a defeat of the imagination, the promise that we were born for something better, something beautiful. So what could be more natural than a group of writers, as diverse as the planet and as ambitious as the air, gathering to use precisely their imagination to re-establish that wounded humanity of ours, renew the promise that beauty still has a say in how to conjure up a different world of, yes, Freedom.’

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in his heartfelt and moving foreword, writes: ‘This is truly a great book of Amnesty’s. To harness the God-given creative talents of these wonderful writers and connect them with each Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is an inspiration. We are made for the sublime and for freedom: it is my hope that these stories will help us to achieve it.’

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