Marking Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week is an annual celebration of the freedom to read. Launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in efforts to suppress certain books in schools, libraries, and bookstores, the national effort each year highlights the value of open access to information and literature.

Although it’s typically held during the final week of September, we’re getting a head start on the event now with a new store display featuring banned books from years past. You’ll likely be surprised by some of the popular titles that authorities have tried to censor. And unfortunately, certain books continue to be targeted and forced off the shelves in some localities. Those most under recent threat are included on a list published by the American Library Association.

P&P is proud to host a number of writers whose works have been banned, among them Salman Rushdie, the prize-winning author who was driven into hiding for many years when Iranian authorities threatened him with death after the publication of his novel, The Satanic Verses, in 1988. P&P will be co-sponsoring a discussion with him of his latest novel, The Golden House, on September 25 at Sixth & I. Tickets are still available, so don’t miss this opportunity to hear Rushdie talk about a new work of mystery set against contemporary politics and culture.

Also in the spirit of Banned Books Week, we’re supporting, for the second year, a city-wide scavenger hunt organized by the DC Public Library under the theme “Texts Against Tyranny.” From September 5 until the end of the month, copies of banned books are being hidden around Washington in libraries, museums, cafes, and bookstores. Each book will bear a special black cover and feature a quote from its pages. All will be free to those who find them. Participants also can win such prizes as tickets to the Newseum, restaurant gift certificates, and more. Plus, 15 hidden books have been tagged “golden ticket” books, entitling finders to tickets to the UNCENSORED Underground party on September 30, the DC Public Library’s annual fundraiser at Dupont Underground.

Interested in joining the hunt? Tune into WAMU’s “Morning Edition” for daily riddles featuring a location clue. You also can follow along social media checking for the #UncensoredDC hashtag.

— Brad and Lissa