Banned Books Week 2007

In light of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent visit to the United States and the level of repression in his coutry, it is a good time to be reminded of the fact that intellectual freedom is afforded to very few of us in th world.

For example, The Da Vinci Code, one of the best selling books of all time, is banned in Iran because the book is based on the theory that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, with their descendants surviving today.

A 2000 US government report said that Myanmar (Burma), where nine anti-government protesters were kiled by the police Thursday, bans all Bible translations into local indigenous languages. Books by peace activist Aung Sang Suu Ky, Freedom from Fear and Letters from Burma, are also banned in the southeast Asian country. The author was under house arrest in Myanmar, during the original publication of the first book, and neither book is published or distributed in Myanmar, where the author still lives.

Even in the United States, where there is very little censorship, it is hard to imagine a time when some of the most prolific writers - Walt Whitman, James Baldwin, John Steinbeck, Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison, Jack London, Ernest Hemmingway and Maya Angelou - have all had their books banned or challenged at some point.

Freedom of expression is noting to be taken for granted. There is no amount of gratiture that can be given to those who have made it possible for authors, writers, journalists, poets and even bloggers to say what we want to say today with impunity.

With that said, the American Library Association has several ways to celebrate this week on their website.

Global Wire has also compiled a list below of banned books we honor, and recommend that supporters of this blog read at least one this week:

Before Night Falls by Reinaldo Arenas

This Prison Where I live: The PEN Anthology of Imprisoned Writers edited by Siobhan Dowd

Novel Without a Name and Paradise of the Blind by Duong Thu Huong

Secrets by Nuruddin Farah

Autobiography of a Tibetan Monk by Palden Gyatso

Under African Skies: Modern African Stories by Charles Larsen

This Earth of Mankind, Child of All Nations, Footsteps, The Mute's Soliloquy, and House of Glass by Pramoedya Ananta Toe

The Stoning of Soraya M by Freidoune Sahebjam

Yocandra in the paradise of Nada by Zoe Valdes

Playing for Thrills by Wang Shuo

The Courage to Stand Alone by Wei Jingsheng

I Was Saddam's Son by Latif Yahia


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