Anyone who has read my short stories “Persephone’s Library” and “What Rough Beast” knows how profoundly the idea of preserving books in a time of ignorance, violence, censorship and the destruction of knowledge resonates with me. The preservation of knowledge, which often comes at great personal risk, is to me an act of immense heroism.
In Mali, amid all the other horrors and tragedies being perpetrated, Islamist insurgents set fire to a library that is a World Heritage site, and the repository of ancient texts, some dating as far back as the 13th century. These texts represent the history of the people of Northern Africa, and their loss would have been devastating not just to the history and culture of the region, but also a deep blow to all of us in the world who value history, knowledge, learning. Continue reading