The Satanic Verses – Salman Rushdie
“The book that is worth killing people and burning flags for is not the book that I wrote.” Salman Rushdie, Time Magazine , shortly after the publication of The Satanic Verses in 1988. Banned in most Muslim countries as also in India, the book was called a work of blasphemy by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeina who issued a fatwa against Rushdie for “insulting Islam, the prophet Muhammed and the holy Koran.”
As Rushdie saw it, his book “isn’t actually about Islam but about migration, metamorphosis, divided selves, love, death, London and Bombay,” he told Time.
The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
Jesus wasn’t divine; he married Mary Magdalene, a woman of possible ill repute, and they had kids. The Vatican appealed to all Christiians to shun the book. The bestseller, which is made into a movie starring Tom Hanks, is a breathless thriller with madcap chases through the Louvre, code-crunching and sinister intrigue in Rome (particularly the Vatican).
Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia- Jean Sasson
A true expose of life in a conservative, Muslim society, Princess is the ghost-written story of the life of a royal princess of the ruling Saud dynasty of Saudi Arabia. The book created a furore in the Muslim world and was banned in the Gulf countries. Some deeply disturbing accounts narrated in the novel: teenage girls forced to marry doddering old men; young women killed by drowning, stoning or starved in a padded, windowless cell for sexual misconduct, or worse for having got pregnant after being raped.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Although it was published in Paris, it was soon (1956) to be banned there for being obscene. John Gordon, editor of the popular Sunday Express, had called it “the filthiest book I have ever read” and “sheer unrestrained pornography.”
Lolita is the sad story of Humpbert Humpbert, a middle-aged European’s obsession with a 12-year-old American girl. The mother’s accidental death proves the catalyst for the unlikely pair of lovers to set off on a cross-country trip where Humpbert indulges his most secret fantasies. The book details the relationship, ever-changing, always taboo, between Humpbert and Lolita, a relationship that, by its very nature, seems doomed to ultimate failure.
The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison
Eleven-year-old black girl Pecola Breedlove prays for blue eyes, “each night without fail” believing her ugly reality will be made beautiful through them. She years to be beautiful so that people will look at her. Instead she is spat upon, ridiculed, and ultimately raped and impregnated by her own father. This novel by the Pulitzer prize-winning author was pulled from a high school in Alaska in 1994 and cited for being too “controversial.” The novel was both challenged and banned in Pennsylvania in 1994, and faced challenges in both Florida and Massachusetts due to the book’s sexual content.
Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
In 1856, after publishing Madame Bovary, Flaubert and the editors of the Revue de Paris were put on trial because Madame Bovary was considered to be morally offensive. Madame Bovary is the story of Emma Bovary, an unhappily married woman who seeks escape through forbidden relationships with other men. Ultimately, Madame Bovary’s indiscretions and her obsession with Romance lead to her downfall.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D H Lawrence
The publication of the book caused a scandal due to its explicit sex scenes, including previously banned four-letter words, and perhaps particularly because the male lover was working-class. The story concerns a young married woman whose upper-class husband has been paralysed and rendered impotent. Her sexual frustration leads her into an affair with the gamekeeper, Mellors, eventually culminating in their marriage. .
Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
This novel depicting a teenager’s nervous breakdown has been repeatedly banned and challenged for reasons such as “profanity,” “sexual references,” and the charge that it “undermines morality.” As recently as 1983, “the book’s contents” were cited as justification to ban the book. The book chronicles Holden Caulfield’s journey from innocence to experience and is the quintessential coming-of-age novel—though it’s an unusual one, in which the hero tries to cling to the simplicity of childhood, achieving a kind of maturity almost in spite of himself.
Little Red Riding Hood
This could feature in Ripley’s Believe it or not! This classic fairy tale, a favourite with children through generations, was banned by two California school districts in 1989. THey found it very disturbing that a little girl should be carrying wine for her grandmother (in one version she is carrying wine and cake for her ailing granny.
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