Writer and atheist Christopher Hitchens, who is suffering from oesophagus cancer, made his first public appearance in months at the Atheist Alliance of America conference in Texas where he was presented an award by Richard Dawkins.
The 62-year-old Hitchens said that he had been determined to attend the conference because of Texas' Bible Belt devotion. Receiving the 'Richard Dawkins Freethinker of the Year Award,' Hitchens looked gaunt and his voice was soft.
Dawkins praised Hitchens for showing determination even in the face of death and said he had disproved the saying that there are "no atheists in foxholes."
"I'm not going to quit until absolutely I have to," Hitchens told the audience before receiving a standing ovation.
After being asked by an eight-year-old girl what books she should read, Hitchens recommended Dawkins' 'Magic of Reality,' Greek and Roman myths, anything satirical by Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, PG Wodehouse, David Hume, and Charles Dickens' 'A Tale of Two Cities.'
Hitchens discovered in June 2010 that he had Stage 4 oesophageal cancer. The writer has admitted to drinking and smoking heavily for much of his life. Although he gave up cigarettes in 2008, he once said he could "drink enough every day to kill or stun the average mule."
Twice married, last year Hitchens announced he had gay relations with two ministers in Margaret Thatcher's government while he was at Oxford University but refused to name them.