ALA convention shocker: Keynote speaker Codrescu slams Cuba policy scandal
Thank you for – once again - giving me the opportunity and pleasure to address some of my favorite people. I feel that you and I, writers and librarians, along with publishers and booksellers, are keeping the flame of literacy flickering in these pixilated times.....
I was born in a place [Romania] where people were forbidden to read most of what we consider the fundamental books of Western civilization. Not only were we forbidden to read authors like James Joyce, but being found in possession of a book such as George Orwell’s “1984” could lend one in prison for years. My good luck was to meet Dr. Martin in my adolescence. Dr. Martin was a retired professor who had collected and kept in his modest three room apartment the best of inter-war Romanian literature..... Also among his treasures were translations of Sigmund Freud, Robert Musil, Klebnikov, George Orwell, and Paul Claudel..... Dr. Martin’s library could have earned him years of hard labor. In addition to owning them, he lent them to us, young high-school writers, who absorbed them thirstily and read them deeply because we knew what risks our older friend – and ourselves - were taking. Those books influenced me profoundly because they were essential to my intellectual development. I became a writer because I read forbidden books. Books forbidden by an authoritarian government are the only reason I am now standing before you.
You can read the rest of the available excerpts at the Friends of Cuban Libraries website.