Jill at Breaking the Spine runs a weekly meme called Waiting on Wednesday about upcoming books that she'd like to read. This is mine.
Burn This Book is a collection of essays written by some of the most pre-eminent writers alive today and is published by Harper Studio and PEN American Center. Edited by Toni Morrison, the essays examine why writers write and the effects of censorship and its toll on writers and the general reading public. Some of the contributors are Russell Banks, Nadine Gordimer, Toni Morrison, Orhan Pamuk and Salman Rushdie. In Freedom to Write, which, along with a few others is available for download on the Harper Studio website, Orhan Pamuk writes:
“I have personally known writers who have chosen to raise forbidden topics purely because they were forbidden. I think I am no different. Because when another writer in another house is not free, no writer is free. This, indeed, is the spirit that informs the solidarity felt by PEN, by writers all over the world.
Sometimes my friends rightly tell me or someone else, "You shouldn't have put it quite like that; if only you had worded it like this, in a way that no one would find offensive, you wouldn't be in so much trouble now." But to change one's words and package them in a way that will be acceptable to everyone in a repressed culture, and to become skilled in this arena, is a bit like smuggling forbidden goods through customs, and as such, it is shaming and degrading.”
There’s not much I can add to the censorship debate without descending into the hectoring platitudes that circulate everywhere (especially, it seems, the internet) except of course to say, I’m against it. The Harper Studio website has several common examples of censorship. All too often, the censorship of a book is instigated by a parent whose child attends the school where the ‘offensive’ book resides, but it sometimes doesn’t stop there and goes on to infect entire school districts.
I believe in choice. If a parent doesn’t want their child to read a certain book – well that’s up to that parent to enforce it and it’s also their right to set limits for their children. But I do not agree with the parent going into schools or libraries and complaining about the book being available there. You may decide what your own child can or cannot read, but it is stepping over the line to have your values decide what other people are exposed to.
For more information about this book visit the Burn This Book website.