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Katie Ryder: Banned Books Week

September 28, 2012

Throughout Banned Books Week, the Guernica Daily will feature interviews and essays in support of free thinking, reading, and writing.

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Image from Flickr via florian.b

By Katie Ryder

The week of September 30 through October 6 is Banned Books Week: an annual event “celebrating the freedom to read.”  In recognition of this week, against censorship, and in support of writers and readers, the Guernica Daily will be publishing interviews with authors whose books have been banned or challenged and essays on works of fiction that have been oft removed from schools, libraries and book stores.

Conveniently, Barack Obama spoke on free speech this week during a (somewhat monumental) address to the United Nations General Assembly.  After stating that “Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views”–true words that, painfully, elide many other important truths–he spoke the following: 

We do so not because we support hateful speech, but because our Founders understood that without such protections, the capacity of each individual to express their own views, and practice their own faith, may be threatened. We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can become a tool to silence critics, or oppress minorities. We do so because given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech – the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.

Bigotry and blasphemy are different things.  One is a voice against people; the other assaults the world’s most beloved literary character.  But there it is already: “more speech.”  

Please check in with us next week for interviews with Alice Walker, Katherine Paterson, and Sherman Alexie, and essays on Mikhail Bulgakov, Toni Morrison, and Henry Miller.

Katie Ryder is the Associate Editor of the Guernica Daily and a freelance writer.

Check out all the pieces in our Banned Books Week series:


Interviews

Sherman Alexie interviewed by Ed Winstead

Katherine Paterson interviewed by Nicole Deming

Alice Walker interviewed by Megan Labrise

Essays

James M. Decker on Henry Miller

Lucy McKeon on Toni Morrison

Nathaniel Rich on Mikhail Bulgakov

Readers like you make Guernica possible. Please show your support.

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One comment for Katie Ryder: Banned Books Week

  1. Comment by King Wenclas on October 26, 2012 at 8:59 am

    I just noticed this. Quite a lot of contradiction in this piece. Whether there are truly banned books today, there are certainly banned writers– such as the populists and zinesters who made up the Underground Literary Alliance. The centerpiece of the reactionary attack on the ULA was the Tom Bissell essay in The Believer, republished this year in his collection of essays. You, Katie, did two interviews with Mr. Bissell and seemed to agree with everything he said, asking him not one hard question. Such as, “Was your ‘classocide’ slur against the ULA exaggeration? What about the ‘lots and lots of tombstones’ line?” Amazing to me how the purported defense of the lower classes– including writers– by the literary and media elite is in fact very sketchy.
    Banned books indeed!
    Have a good day.
    (The Bissell essay taken apart at http://www.kingwenclas.blogspot.com)
    Thanks.

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