September 8, 2016

“FILTHY TRASHY SEX NOVEL,” and other liberties


Scattered throughout Washington, D.C. this week are hundreds of books wrapped in plain black jackets with bold white text proclaiming the “objectionable” content within: “FILTHY TRASHY SEX NOVEL,” “SMUT,” “PROFANE AND SEXUALLY EXPLICIT.”

It’s a lot less scandalous than it sounds — which is the point.

The campaign is part of the D.C. Public Library’s celebration of Banned Books Week, a nationwide program that celebrates the freedom to read and draws attention to the censorship of literature. The #UncensoredDC scavenger hunt features six different “banned books,” each wrapped with the official (and often amusing) reason for its censorship and planted in a discoverable spot within the city. They are:

The Catcher in the Rye
The Color Purple
Native Son
Slaughterhouse Five
A Separate Peace
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Anyone who finds one of these books will be entered to win tickets to a cocktail party featuring D.C. area artists, live music, and a handful of bartenders “each with their own interpretation of a drink based on a specific banned book.”

Most events elsewhere will be kicking off later this month, when Banned Book Week officially begins on Sunday, September 25.



Taylor Sperry is a former Melville House editor.