Burn This Book: PEN Writers Speak Out on the Power of the Word

Burn This Book: PEN Writers Speak Out on the Power of the Word

by Toni Morrison
     
 

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Published in conjunction with the PEN American Center, Burn This Book is a powerful collection of essays that explore the meaning of censorship and the power of literature to inform the way we see the world, and ourselves.

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Overview

Published in conjunction with the PEN American Center, Burn This Book is a powerful collection of essays that explore the meaning of censorship and the power of literature to inform the way we see the world, and ourselves.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 11 short essays by some of the world's premier novelists, this volume explores a simple question: why write? Contributor Paul Auster may put the query best: "Surely it is an odd way to spend your life-sitting alone in a room with a pen in your hand, hour after hour, day after day, year after year, struggling to put words on pieces of paper." In response, Pico Iyer delivers a moving account of a Burmese trishaw driver living under political oppression, who for years composed (by candlelight) letters to the author, many of which were censored. Orhan Pamuk also explores this intense human hunger for stories and creative freedom with an anecdote from his March 1985 tour of Turkey, on which he introduced Arthur Miller and Harold Pinter to Turkish writers who had suffered "repression, cruelty and outright evil" in a military coup. Francine Prose, on the other hand, makes a lively attempt to separate literature from politics (in which she cops to her own political biases in her choice of examples). The disparate voices produce a complex of reasons that drive writers, though all agree that, as observed by Morrison (wearing both editor and contributor caps), it's a "bleak, unlivable, insufferable existence... when we are deprived of artwork."
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Library Journal
Published in conjunction with the PEN American Center, this slim collection of essays has an amazing list of contributors—Toni Morrison, John Updike, David Grossman, Francine Prose, Pico Iyer, Russell Banks, Paul Auster, Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, Ed Park, and Nadine Gordimer. There is no introduction or preface to any of the essays, most of which are somber and all of which are engrossing; each brief piece pulls the reader in. The contributors discuss the importance of writing from various views, political and social. They illustrate the need for freedom of speech and human rights, and they emphasize the target writers become in a tyranny. VERDICT This is not an easy read, but it is a profound, absorbing, and moving collection of work. An essential purchase.—Paolina Taglienti, Las Vegas Coll., Henderson, NV

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061878817
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/12/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
128
Sales rank:
728,084
File size:
186 KB

Meet the Author

Toni Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. She is the author of many novels, including Sula, Song of Solomon, Beloved, and, most recently, A Mercy. She has also received the National Book Critics Circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize for her fiction.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Princeton, New Jersey, and Manhattan
Date of Birth:
February 18, 1931
Place of Birth:
Lorain, Ohio
Education:
Howard University, B.A. in English, 1953; Cornell, M.A., 1955

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