Author Ann Patchett took to Instagram Thursday to share that two of her books—The Patron Saint of Liars and Bel Canto—are among nearly 700 that have been banned from schools in Orange County, Florida.
“Hi, everybody… it’s a pretty big day for me personally,” a smiling Patchett says in a video posted on the account of Parnassus Books, her Nashville, Tennessee, bookstore. “I just got a call from PEN America that two of my novels have been banned in the Orange County School System in the state of Florida.”
The author goes on to note that her first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars, which revolves around a “home for unwed mothers in rural Kentucky,” doesn’t actually include any sex and does involve pregnant young women who opt not to have an abortion.
“They have the baby and give the baby up for adoption, just like they tell us to in the state of Florida,” Patchett says. “I would actually think this book would be required reading. But maybe it’s the idea that in order to get pregnant, somebody had to have sex, even if it happened before the book started.”
Bel Canto, meanwhile, is about a “terrorist situation in South America,” an opera singer, and the power of art and music to bring people together, Patchett says. “It’s true that, in the end, the terrorists get shot,” she adds. “But maybe in the state of Florida that would be OK, too, because they don’t ban guns.”
“Be careful,” the author concludes, holding up copies of the two novels. “Don’t read these books.”
Patchett’s video has generated more than 19,000 likes in the day since it was posted on Instagram, as well as a host of comments, including several from people saying they were rushing right out to read the pair of banned books.
“I weirdly feel like congratulations are in order,” wrote author Mary Robinette Kowal.
“This is a master class in throwing shade. Ann Patchett is a legend,” the Silent Book Club gushed.
The full list of Orange County’s banned books can be found here.
Amy Reiter is a writer in Brooklyn.