Banned Books Across The World
It is a dream of every writer to see the book they have written be on the shelves of every bookshops and library across the world. For some this might not be the story they will be telling when they speak of their writing achievements. Some might find themselves on the wrong side of the publishing world; the books they have invested their time and money on might never see the light of the day. Imagine the disappointment and anger they feel whenever this happens to them, but as usual, most of them never accept going down without a fight. There are a process and protocol taken before people make such a decision of banning the book. On the brighter side, at least they would have read your book to come up with that decision right?
Since the beginning of publishing, books have encountered many challenges and some get banned for different reasons, like religious values, social or political and cultural. The books we enjoy reading or rather enjoyed not knowing what they had to through to be available in the market today. There are a thousand of books that have been banned and just to mention a few, below are some of the books that were banned and challenged:
Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India by Lelyveld was currently banned in Gujarat, a state in western India, for suggesting that Mahatma Gandhi had a homosexual relationship. Gujarat’s state assembly voted unanimously in favor of the ban in April 2011. However, Lelyveld claimed that the gay interpretation of his work is a mistake. “The book does not say that Gandhi was bisexual or homosexual. It says that he was celibate and deeply attached to Kallenbach. This is not news.” Lelyveld used the documentary evidence and informed opinion to point to the relationship that Gandhi had developed with a Prussian architect Kallenbach. Lelyveld’s inquiry includes quotes from a letter sent by Gandhi to Kallenbach from London in 1909: “Your portrait (the only one) stands on my mantelpiece in the bedroom. The mantelpiece is opposite to the bed… [The purpose of which] is to show to you and me how completely you have taken possession of my body. This is slavery with a vengeance.” Later, the Indian government bought several personal letters. I know I should have stopped at the first sentence but this tea was too hot, I couldn’t sip it alone.
The Mask of Sanity is an American novel by Jacob M Apple, published by the Permanent Press in 2017. The book was banned preemptively in Malaysia for blasphemy. Bruce DeSilva in The Washington Post described the novel as “both a suspenseful yarn and a chilling portrait of the mind of a high-functioning sociopath.” Despite it being banned, the book he novel was a finalist for the Faulkner- Wisdom Prize and the runner-up for Killer Nashville’s Claymore Award. You see! Good things could happen to books that other people think even the idea of the book should not exist. Keep doing what you are doing because one man’s meat is another man’s poison, cliché? Yeah, I know.
My Watch by Olusegun Obasanjo was banned in Nigeria because these three-volume memoirs of the former Nigerian president were highly critical of nearly everyone in Nigerian politics. The books were ordered to be seized by the High Court in Nigeria until a libel case had been heard in court. However, the ban on the book by a Nigerian Court has increased the appetite of the citizenry for the revelations of the decade by a man who in resemblance of a door is well positioned to see within and without the Nigerian polity and its actors. After the Abuja court restrained Obasanjo from publishing this book, the court barred him from having someone else publish it on his behalf.
Big River, Big Sea — Untold Stories of 1949 is a collection of stories written by Taiwanese author Lung Ying-Tai published in August 2009. It tells in detail, the events from the surrounding the conclusion of the Chinese Civil War including Chinese families that were broken up by the civil war that ended in the Kuomintang’s defeat in 1949, with some two million escaping to Taiwan. The book was banned in mainland China following the book launch. Lung had said in the public that she especially wanted readers from mainland China to read this book. However, since the books covered various misdeeds of the Chinese Red Army during this era, it was banned by the People Republic of China government. However, this book is still obtainable to readers in mainland China through online purchase.
Fifty Shades Trilogy is a series of erotic novels by E.L. James. The trilogy consists of Fifty Shades of Grey (2011), Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed (2012). The entire trilogy was banned in Malaysia from 2015 for containing “sadistic” material and “threat to morality”. In Macaé, Brazil, Judge Raphael Queiroz Campos ruled in January 2013 that bookstores throughout the city must either remove the series entirely from their shelves or ensure that the books are wrapped and placed out of the reach of minors. The judge stated that he was prompted to make such an order after seeing children reading them, basing his decision on a law stating that “magazines and publications whose content is improper or inadequate for children and adolescents can only be sold if sealed and with warnings regarding their content”.
Onward Muslim Soldiers is a nonfiction book by Robert Spencer. Spencer described the book as an “in-depth study of the doctrine of jihad and how it is exploited today by terrorists to justify what they’re doing and to recruit and motivate new terrorists”. The book makes a number of controversial claims. These include that mosques in the United States should be monitored more closely to protect national security and that Muslims living in Western Europe are eroding traditions of ‘secularism, free inquiry, and open societies’. He also makes the assertion that non-Muslims living in Muslim countries suffer legalized oppression that stems from teachings in the Qur’an. On July 12, 2007, the government of Malaysia announced a ban on Spencer’s book, citing “confusion and anxiety among the Muslims” as the cause.
The King Never Smiles is an unauthorized biography of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej by Paul M. Handley, a freelance journalist who lived and worked as a foreign correspondent in Thailand. It is published by Yale University Press and was released in 2006. The book was banned in Thailand before publication, and the Thai authorities have blocked local access to websites advertising the book. In a statement dated 19 January 2006, Thai National Police Chief General Kowit Wattana said the book has “contents which could affect national security and the good morality of the people.” In October 2011, Thai-born American Joe Gordon was sentenced to two and a half years in prison by a Bangkok judge for defaming the royal family by translating sections of the book into Thai and posting them online.
Animal Farm is an allegorical novella by George Orwell. According to Orwell, the book reflects events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and then on into the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union. Orwell wrote the book between November 1943 and February 1944, when the UK was in its wartime alliance with the Soviet Union and the British people and intelligentsia held Stalin in high esteem, a phenomenon Orwell hated. The manuscript was initially rejected by a number of British and American publishers, including one of Orwell’s own, Victor Gollancz, which delayed its publication. It became a great commercial success when it did appear partly because international relations were transformed as the wartime alliance gave way to the Cold War. Orwell found that no publisher would print the book, due to its criticism of the USSR, an important ally of Britain in the War. Once published, the book was banned in the USSR and other communist countries. In 2002, the novel was banned in the schools of the United Arab Emirates, because it contained text or an image that goes against Islamic values, most notably the occurrence of an anthropomorphic, talking pig. The book is still banned in North Korea and censored in Vietnam.
Elmer Gantry is a satirical novel written by Sinclair Lewis in 1926 that presents aspects of the religious activity of America in fundamentalist and evangelistic circles and the attitudes of the 1920s public toward it. The book was banned in Boston and other cities and denounced from pulpits across the United States. One cleric suggested that Lewis should be imprisoned for five years, and there were also threats of physical violence against the author. Boston was not the only city that banned the book, Massachusetts, Kansas City, Missouri, Camden, New Jersey and other US cities and this novel by Sinclair deals with fanatical religiosity and hypocrisy in the United States during the 1920s by presenting a skeevy preacher (the Reverend Dr. Elmer Gantry) as a protagonist who prefers easy money, booze, and “enticing young girls” over saving souls, all while converting a traveling tent revival crusade into a profitable and permanent evangelical church and radio empire for his employers.
The Satanic Verses is Salman Rushdie’s fourth novel, first published in 1988 and inspired in part by the life of Muhammad. As with his previous books, Rushdie used magical realism and relied on contemporary events and people to create his characters. The novel provoked great controversies in the Muslim community for what some Muslims believed were blasphemous references. They accused him of misusing freedom of speech. As the controversy spread, the importing of the book was banned in India and it was burned in demonstrations in the United Kingdom. The book was banned in the following countries for alleged blasphemy against Islam: Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iran, Kenya, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Senegal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Thailand. With police protection, Rushdie escaped direct physical harm, but others associated with his book have suffered violent attacks. Hitoshi Igarashi, his Japanese translator, was stabbed to death on 11 July 1991. Ettore Capriolo, the Italian translator, was seriously injured in a stabbing in Milan on 3 July 1991. William Nygaard, the publisher in Norway, was shot three times in an attempted assassination in Oslo in October 1993 but survived.
All these books were banned and challenged for different reasons, having read some of them do you think these reasons were good enough to shatter someone’s dream of writing and publishing books? Share some of the books that were banned for same or different reasons.