Of Mice And Men To Be Banned In Idaho?

Hailed by the Nobel prize judges in 1962 for his realism and sympathetic humour, John Steinbeck is under attack. Parents in Idaho have branded “Of Mice and Men” “neither a quality story nor a page-turner” and asked for it to be removed from classrooms. A curriculum review committee in the city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho has recommended the 1937 novella should no longer be taught in classrooms, according to the Spokesman-Review, and that ninth-graders should study it “on a voluntary, small-group basis” only. For parent Mary Jo Finney, the use of words such as “bastard” and “God damn” makes it unsuitable for 14- or 15-year-old students. After counting more than 100 “profanities,” she expressed her shock to the Spokesman-Review that “teachers actually had the audacity to have students read these profanities out loud in class”.

Steinbeck’s story of the difficulties faced by migrant fieldworkers in the Great Depression is a fixture on high-school syllabuses in the US, the UK and beyond, but since 1953 has also become one of America’s most frequently-challenged books.

In the same week, one of the novels on the American Library Association’s most recent list of banned books, “The Kite Runner” by Afghan-born Khaled Hosseini, has come under attack in North Carolina. According to the Citizen-Times, a parent in Asheville complained about the global bestseller’s language and “adult themes”. “The description of the book the teacher included mentioned that there was a rape,” said Lisa Baldwin, “but not that it was the rape of a child and it was the homosexual rape of a child, which I felt was something parents needed to know.” Baldwin also objected that Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 novel, “All Quiet on the Western Front” had been “removed from the curriculum without parents knowing about it”.

Hosseini’s 2003 book has been removed from classrooms until a committee at Ashville’s Reynolds High School has considered Baldwin’s complaint. It’s not yet clear if parents concerned by Hosseini’s depiction of war and chaos in Afghanistan will be reassured by Remarque’s evocation of the shock and horror of mechanised warfare in France.

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The Most Banned Books of 2014

THE MOST BANNED BOOKS OF 2014

A memoir by a sexual assault survivor, a science fiction comic book and a children’s book about gay penguins were among the 10 most frequently banned or challenged books in the United States last year, according to the American Library Association, the ALA.

The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom recently released its annual “Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books,” based on over 300 reports of community members attempting to have literature removed from libraries and school curricula. The organization notes that “attempts to remove books by authors of color and books with themes about issues concerning communities of color are disproportionately challenged and banned.”

Four of the books on the list are by writers of color: “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie, “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi, “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison and “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini. “Homosexuality” is listed as the reason two of the books were banned or challenged. Alexie, who is something of a veteran of book-banning attempts, took the No. 1 spot on the list this year. On his Twitter account, he indicated that his place on the list was a badge of honor: “I am the proud author of the most banned/challenged book of 2014!” he tweeted.

The top 10 most banned and challenged books of 2014:

1. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie. Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying.”
2. “Persepolis,” by Marjane Satrapi. Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions.”
3. “And Tango Makes Three,” Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda.”
4. “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison. Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues.”
5. “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris. Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group.
6. “Saga,” by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples. Reasons: Anti-family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
7. “The Kite Runner,” by Khaled Hosseini. Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence.
8. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky. Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation.”
9. “A Stolen Life,” Jaycee Dugard. Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
10. “Drama,” by Raina Telgemeier. Reasons: sexually explicit.

Listen to The Book Report at your convenience. Go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-book-report/id540205917?mt=2, or at bookreportradio.com, click on Archived Shows

WAR NOVELS

Veteran Adrian Bonenberger is coming out with his memoir, Afghan Post, an account of his two deployments, and his war experiences. He’s just compiled a list of his top contemporary war novels. Some familiar, others new to us. They are ….

The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil by George Saunders –a variation on the theme of Orwell’s Animal Farm.; The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins ; The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – which Bonenberger calls the most accurate literary description of Afghanistan he’s ever encountered; Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain – and  Sand Queen by Helen Benedict – an incredibly compelling fictional account of a woman in combat.

For more titles worth your time, tune into my show The Book Report.

Summer Reads show July 20 & 21

 

FEATURED BOOKS PREVIEWED”And the Mountains Echoed” by Khaled Hosseini
“The Kill Room” by Jeffery Deaver
“Francona: The Red Sox Years” by Terry Francona and Dan Shaughnessy
“How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia” by Mohsin Hamid
“Until I Say Goodbye: My Year of Living with Joy” by Susan Spencer-Wendel with Bret Witter
“The King’s Deception” by Steve Berry
“A Delicate Truth” by John le Carre
The Orphan Master’s Son” by Adam Johnson

INTERVIEWS
Jeffery Deaver, Author
Steve Berry, Author

TUNE INTO THE PROGRAM FOR:
Elaine researches the best-sellers and suggests which books to pack for your summer travels.