(NEW YORK) – In response to news that Guernica magazine retracted a personal essay by a writer living in Israel, Summer Lopez, PEN America’s chief program officer of Free Expression Programs, said the following:

“A writer’s published work should not be yanked from circulation because it sparks public outcry or sharp disagreement. At its best, literature is a bridge, connecting us across differences; writers help guide the rest of us across that bridge. Individuals are free to respond, rebut or criticize as they choose. But to erase the work of a writer who sought to grapple with the complexities of the war in Gaza in her own life is to set a dangerous precedent at odds with the freedom to read and the values of free expression. The pressures on US cultural institutions in this moment—from without and within—are immense. Those with a mission to foster discourse should do so by safeguarding the freedom to write, read, imagine and tell stories—protecting liberties that will point us to a better future.”