Thursday, 13 March 2014

Banned Books (List Week 10)

I know I promised last week to write a scandalous post regarding books the day after Friday - so in other words on Saturday - today is Thursday, let's just pretend it's Saturday, it's been a fraught week! No faffing around today, let's just get right into it.
I'm going to be talking about books which have been banned, or are still banned in various countries around the world and why. I find this topic really interesting, and if you do too you should check out PEN International. PEN are an organisation who promote freedom of literature and expression for writers all over the world. They are also doing fantastic work with imprisoned writers and journalists who are seeking asylum. Do also take a look at the York Pen website, one of my very good friends Alice runs this and she is doing an absolutely wonderful job.

52 Lists
Week 10 - March 7th
Part two: Once/Still Banned books

1. 'Animal Farm' (1945) by George Orwell:
This book is still banned in Cuba and North Korea and though published, continues to be censored in China. Due to it's controversial political stance it was really hard for Orwell to find a publisher for 'Animal Farm' and it took two years after completion before it was published by Secker and Warburg. It also contains criticism of the USSR and therefore was banned in various communist countries for a long time. The book was also not allowed to be published in the UAE because it contained an anthropomorphic talking pig which goes against Islamic values.
2. 'Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India' (2011) by Joseph Lelyveld:
This book is banned in Gujarat, Western India because it suggests that Gandhi had a homosexual relationship. This is something that I came across whilst doing research for my paper on trans* people in India.
3. 'The Satanic Verses' (1988) by Salman Rushdie:
A very controversial novel in the Islamic world. Ironically it is also a crucial novel in university curriculums in the US and UK. Despite the fact that Rushdie is very popular, the novel has been banned in: Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iran, Kenya, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Senegal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Thailand for blasphemous themes.
4. 'July's People' (1981) by Nadine Gordimer:
After this was published in 1981 it was banned by the South African Government for being racist. It was published before the end of the apartheid and was a 'fictional' story within which Gordimer essentially predicted what she believed would be the outcome of the regime. Despite being previously banned it is now included in the South African school curriculum.
5. 'Lolita' (1955) by Vladimir Nabokov:
A very sexually explicit novel about an adult relationship with a 13 year old girl. I read this for a reading group when I was about 17 still at school and found it quite disturbing but actually a really good read. When it was first published, the book was banned in France, the UK, Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada (but later, in 1958). The bans have since been lifted but it is still one of the most controversial novels today.
6. 'The Kite Runner' (2003) by Khaled Hosseini:
Since its publication this novel has sparked huge controversies in Afghanistan, it has also been banned from various libraries in a number of countries including the USA, however has not been officially state-wide banned anywhere. However, the film adaptation was not allowed and continues not to be permitted to be distributed in cinemas or DVD shops because of the rape scene which authorities believe might trigger racial violence within the country. It is however legal to watch the film if you access it elsewhere.
7. 'Spycatcher' (1987) by Peter Wright:
A former MI5 intelligence officer Wright, wrote about his experiences in this autobiography. The book was subsequently banned in the UK between 1985-1988 before it even reached publication because it apparently revealed current intelligence secrets. It was published first in Australia in 1987 after word had gotten out that the UK had banned it... this resulted in high demand, how people love a bit of saucy scandal!

-none of the images belong to me, all belong to the publisher of each book find more info by clicking on respective links-


  1. I love your blog. Your photos are great and always look flawless. What software do you use to edit with as I'm looking at buying some?
    Beth x

    1. Hi Beth, thank you! Sorry not to reply sooner, I must have missed this! I actually don't really use any particular software, I use a Nikon d60 camera or just my phone and sometimes I will touch up a bit on iphoto but that's about it, sorry not to be more useful!! Ailish :-)