The report highlights that the surge in social media backlash and outrage is leading to new moral litmus tests being imposed on books and authors. This trend is causing self-censorship, curbing literary expression, and restricting writers’ creative freedom. The organization urges stakeholders in the literary community, including publishers, authors, institutions, and readers, to protect literary freedom and resist the pressure to remove books due to potentially offensive content.
The report argues that while instances of book withdrawals due to criticism are relatively rare, they have significant consequences, limiting risk-taking in literature and shaping the landscape for future books.
In the report, PEN America expressed their hopes that this “will shed light on these debates, offer guidance, and argue for a firm defense of literary freedom. As a society, we need to be able to engage in free debate about books without resorting to denying readers the opportunity to read these books and come to their own conclusions.”