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Sunday, February 22, 2009


Margaret Atwood tells readers of the Guardian that her "head is spinning" in light of new details concerning the "banning" of Geraldine Bedell's book from the Emirates Book Festival. Having discovered that the story had been blown out of proportion, Atwood has the good grace to make fun of her own reactions in the role of
Anti-Censorship Woman! I nipped into the nearest phone booth, hopped into my cape and coiled my magic lasso, and swiftly cancelled my own appearance; because, as a vice-president of International PEN, I could not give my August Seal of Elderly Writer Approval to such a venue.
While the status of The Gulf Between Us in the Gulf remains unclear, Atwood makes some savvy points about the nature of book festivals and authors' egos, concluding -- cape aloft -- with the hope that the incident will provide a forum for serious debate:
The positive effect of this fracas is that the door has now been opened for a discussion of such matters. PEN will send its international secretary, Eugene Schoulgin, to initiate such a discussion; there is talk of a panel. I am considering my options. Should I - for instance - appear at the festival on video screen? Or are there yet more twists and turns to this story?

Books are seriously "banned" and "censored" around the world, and people have been imprisoned, murdered and executed for what they've written. A loose use of these terms is not helpful.

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