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In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the resultant global Black Lives Matter protests, it has been clearer than ever before that the voices of some are prioritised to the exclusion of others.
As part of Banned Books Week 2020 – an annual celebration of the freedom to read – the RSL, in partnership with British Library, Index on Censorship and English PEN, brings together a panel of writers who have committed to sharing their stories, to creating without compromise, and to inspiring others to do the same. We ask what ‘freedom’ means in the culture of traditional publishing, and how writers today can change the future of literature.
Urvashi Butalia is Director and co-founder of Kali for Women, India’s first feminist publishing house. An active participant in India’s women’s movement for more than two decades, she holds the position of Reader at the College of Vocational Studies at the University of Delhi.
Rachel Long is a poet and founder of Octavia Poetry Collective for Womxn of Colour, based at the Southbank Centre. Her first collection My Darling from the Lions, shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection 2020, explores the intersections of family, love, and sexual politics. She is co-tutor on the Barbican Young Poets programme.
Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist, whose work has been translated into 54 languages. She is the author of eighteen books; her latest, 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the 2020 RSL Ondaatje Prize. She holds a PhD in political science and she has taught at various universities in Turkey, the US and the UK. She was elected an RSL Fellow in 2019.
Jacqueline Woodson is the author of more than two dozen award-winning books. She is a four-time National Book Award finalist, a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a two-time NAACP Image Award winner, a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner, recipient of the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the 2018 Children’s Literature Legacy Award and the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award.
Banned Books Week is presented by the RSL in partnership with English PEN, Index on Censorship and the British Library.
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