Index stood firmly against the apartheid regime. South African Nadine Gordimer, yet another Nobel prize-winning author, wrote regularly for the magazine. Big names from around the literary world flocked to contribute to the magazine, often before their struggles had brought internal accolade – a single issue in 1983 included the exiled Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka, later a Nobel prize winner, and Czechoslovakian dissident Vaclav Havel, who went on to be his country’s last president before it split into Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Kurt Vonnegut and Arthur Miller were also among the more famous bylines. Salman Rushdie, the author at the centre of the Satanic Verses controversy, was frequently featured on Index’s pages while there was a bounty offered for his murder by the Iranian government.
After the fall of communism, there was a widespread misconception that censorship was “over”, but journalists, authors and dissidents have continually reached out to Index when squeezed. The Russian reporter Anna Politkovskaya wrote in 2002 of the threats made against her life when she began investigating Russia’s war in Chechnya, four years before she was assassinated in Moscow.
After more than 40 years, Index continues to stand with the silenced all over the world. In October 2016, the Times Literary Supplement described it as “an archive of past battles won, and a beacon of present and future struggles. It’s unique brand of practical, practising advocacy is as necessary as ever.”