Banned Books Week “Read-Out” on Wednesday | Pittsburgh City Paper

Banned Books Week “Read-Out” on Wednesday

Freadom, the ACLU of Pennsylvania's 20th annual reading of banned books, is something of an all-star affair.

The readers and performers at the Carnegie Museum of Art Theater — with favorites from years past — include WQED-based documentary filmmaker Rick Sebak, jazz vocalist Etta Cox, poet and “genius grant” winner Terrance Hayes and talk-show host Lynn Cullen.

There’ll also be a banned-books quiz, with prizes, and a banned-song singalong. The event is free, and recommended for teens and adults.

It’s not all straight literary readings, of course. Cox will sing “Strange Fruit,” the haunting anti-lynching song made famous by Billie Holiday, which was banned by some Southern radio stations.

Sebak will read from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Hayes will sample Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita (banned in France, of all places, and elsewhere). And Cullen will go counterintuitive by reading from the Bible, which has been subject to censorship or bans in many countries over the decades.

Other guests include Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails (LUPEC), who’ll read from Margaret Sanger’s 1914 pamphlet “Family Limitation,” which explains how to prevent pregnancy and was the subject of a federal obscenity ban. LUPEC will also serve a special Banned Books Week cocktail to attendees over age 21.

The Banned Books Quiz, organized by the Carnegie’s own librarians, will include questions about “young adult” books, which are the most frequently challenged books in libraries. The quiz includes prizes.

And the karaoke-style banned-song group singalong will cover well-known songs banned from the airwaves.

The challenging and banning of books continues to be a problem in libraries. The ACLU reports that this year’s Top 10 list includes “And Tango Makes Three," a non-fiction book about two male penguins raising a chick, and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison’s debut novel, "The Bluest Eye.”

Freadom takes place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, in the Carnegie Museum of Art Theater (on the museum’s lower level). The museum is located at 4400 Forbes Ave., in Oakland.

The event’s sponsors also include the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and radio stations 90.5 WESA-FM and 91.3 WYEP-FM.

For more information, call the Pittsburgh office of the ACLU-PA at 412.681.7736, go here or email [email protected]