Margaret Atwood has cancelled her plans to attend the Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature (EAIFL) in Dubai after learning that British author Geraldine Bedell was told by organizers that she could not be a part of the event because one of the characters in her forthcoming novel, The Gulf Between Us, is gay.
Atwood, who is the vice president of International PEN, posted on her Web site a letter she wrote to EAIFL director Isobel Abulhoul. "It is with great regret that I inform you that I cannot attend this year's Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature in Dubai. I know you have put an enormous amount of work into it, I can imagine how many difficulties have had to be overcome, and I am very sad about the regrettable turn of events surrounding The Gulf Between Us," she wrote. "I was greatly looking forward to the Festival, and to the chance to meet readers there; but, as an International Vice President of PEN—an organization concerned with the censorship of writers—I cannot be part of the Festival this year."
Other authors scheduled to appear at the festival, which begins next Thursday, include Julia Glass and Frank McCourt.