Closing Night: An Evening of Forbidden Books

Closing Night: An Evening of Forbidden Books event page image

In 1982, a year during which the Island Trees School District v. Pico case opened fervent debates around the First Amendment within American public schools, PEN America organized an evening of readings of forbidden books that brought together iconic contemporary American writers and performers—including Toni Morrison, Donald Barthelme, and Margaret Hamilton—to celebrate the vitality of works that had been censored. As the U.S. now experiences a wave of educational gag orders, the country has seen an onslaught of book bans: with over 1300 counted by PEN America in half a year. In response to this disturbing trend, PEN America revives this event, gathering a star-studded celebration of the freedom to write, read, and think featuring dramatic readings from some of the most “dangerous” texts ever printed. These stories and poems have been ripped from the hands of young readers and deemed harmful, often for their revelation of important truths, underrepresented perspectives, and expansion of imaginations and worldviews.

The evening will highlight recent banned books, and other vital, once verboten, works by writers including Toni Morrison, Art Spiegelman, Kurt Vonnegut, and more. Wajahat Ali, New York Times contributing op-ed writer, public speaker and author of the recently published book Go Back to Where You Came From will host. Presented in collaboration with the PEN America’s Children’s and Young Adult Book Committee and Free Expression and Education Program. ASL interpretation provided by Pro Bono ASL.

Presented with support form Featherston Booktown, Verb Wellington, and ReadNZ.

After Party at Alphabet Bar & Cafe at the Moxy East Village, 112 E 11th Stat the Moxy East Village at 9:30 p.m.

Please note: as of May 10, the elevator of this historic venue is non-functioning. The event space is located upstairs. Contact us at [email protected] with questions. We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience.

headshot of Paul Zelinsky
Paul Zelinsky
headshot of Molly Crabapple
Molly Crabapple
headshot of Mark Micchelli
Mark Micchelli
headshot of Mai Khoi
Mai Khoi
headshot of Wajahat Ali
Wajahat Ali
Susan Kuklin headshot
Susan Kuklin
V (formerly Eve Ensler) headshot
V (formerly Eve Ensler)
Eileen Myles headshot
Eileen Myles
Jason Reynolds headshot
Jason Reynolds
Tanya Talaga headshot
Tanya Talaga
Tochi Onyebuchi headshot
Tochi Onyebuchi
headshot of Fatima Shaik
Fatima Shaik