Banned Books Week, the deaths of Kofi Awoonor and Álvaro Mutis, and miniature books

September 27, 2013

This week was Banned Books Week, where publishers, readers, and the general literary community celebrate freedom of expression and raise awareness about censorship around the world. For more on Banned Books Week, check out the links below or visit our Banned Books from Around the World reading list.

News, Reviews, and Interviews

The American Library Association published their list of the most challenged and banned books of 2012-2013 this week.

If people want what they can’t have, is the same true for banned books?

This week, PEN American hosted Google+ hangout sessions with several authors to talk about censorship and book banning. You can watch the video recaps of their discussions with Sherman Alexie and Erica Jong at the PEN website.

You can also join the Banned Books Week conversation on Google+ by joining the PEN American G+ community.

In this great video from Poets & Writers, 13 authors speak their minds about censorship and banned books.

Learn more about the history of international censorship and book banning with the PEN American interactive timeline.

This week we learned of the loss of Kofi Awoonor, who was one of the victims of the Westgate Mall shooting in Nairobi this past weekend. You can read several of Awoonor’s poems at the Poetry Foundation Ghana website.

We also said goodbye to another great literary force: Álvaro Mutis Jaramillo, who was the 2002 Neustadt Prize Laureate and one of the most prominent Colombian poets of his generation.

Is the idea of literature as a bridge simply misguided thinking?

A new legal battle over whether or not Sherlock Holmes should be in the public domain is gaining ground and popularity.

A new program called the Afghan Women’s Writing Project teaches women to express themselves through writing poetry and prose.

Jhumpa Lahiri recently sat down to a video interview with the New Yorker about her new novel, The Lowland, a Man Booker Prize shortlist pick.

The 2013 MacArthur Fellows were announced this week, and we congratulate all of the recipients.

For Your Calendar

This weekend, WLT Executive Director Robert Con Davis-Undiano will be hosting a special interview on OETA (COX 14) about the current crisis in the Middle East.

The Griffin Poetry Prize announced the three judges for their 2014 prize this week—it’s a great group!

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o will be giving this year’s annual John La Rose Memorial Lecture next week in London. Tickets are required to attend, and you are encouraged to buy early.

Fun Finds and Inspiration

We hope that this new illustrated interview style will start to gain prominence among the literary community.

This creative video gives a whole new perspective on the greater role of translators.

Miniature books are now on display at the National Library of Scotland—some of them are roughly the size of a thumbprint!

How does one define a book? Leah Price, Harvard University English professor, gave several possible definitions at Ploughshares.

How does your state rank in number of bookstores per capita?

If you had to guess, what would you choose as the most difficult language to learn? This study shows that Polish tops the list.