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Our Right to Read: What happens when ideas are silenced?

Past Event

Join us as we explore what happens when ideas are censored, and celebrate our freedom to read and write.

Every day, across the globe, writers are being censored in a hundred different ways. Some face persecution, others are imprisoned, some have their work banned and some are subject to more insidious means of censorship.

So, who are the modern-day censors? And what ingenious evasions – both modern and ancient – have writers and publishers used to protect our right to read?

Join award-winning journalist David Aaronovitch in conversation with Irish author Claire Hennessy and publisher Lynn Gaspard, as they explore what happens when ideas are silenced, and celebrate our freedom to read and write.

With readings by Bidisha and from the works of Moris Farhi

You can download the 2017 Banned Books Week reading list here.

The event will be followed by free drinks courtesy of Flying Dog Brewery and Index on Censorship

David Aaronovitch is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster and author and chair of free expression organisation Index on Censorship. He is a regular columnist for The Times newspaper.
Claire Hennessy is the Irish author of several young adult novels that boldly tackle many complex issues for young people. She has written about anorexia and, most recently in her new book Like Other Girls, Ireland’s archaic abortion laws and queer culture.
Lynn Gaspard is the Publisher of Saqi Books, who claim a history rather more dramatic than most bookshops or publishing houses: obstacles over the years have included wars, censorship, political instability and export embargoes.


Moris Farhi is a Turkish novelist and essayist who for over twenty-five years has campaigned for writers persecuted and imprisoned by repressive regimes. In 2001 he was elected a Vice President of International PEN. In the same year he was appointed an (MBE) for services to literature.

Bidisha is a British newspaper journalist, critic and broadcaster/presenter for the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky. She specialises in international human rights, social justice, gender and the arts and is a trustee of the Booker Prize Foundation. Her most recent book, Asylum and Exile: Hidden Voices of London, is based on her outreach work, most recently with young asylum seeker mothers

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