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Friday, December 21, 2012

Sherman Alexie's Young-Adult Novel Faces Another Ban

Posted by on Fri, Dec 21, 2012 at 10:27 AM

Sherman Alexie's National Book Award–winning novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (which was illustrated by Stranger Genius Ellen Forney), is once again facing a challenge: Parents in Yakima's West Valley School District are trying to remove the book from high school English class reading lists, saying it "contains material unsuitable for young readers." They seem to be concerned mainly about the language, including "sexual references and profanity" and "a line of dialogue where a bully insults the narrator with a racial slur." The book has been banned and challenged all over the country (like in Georgia and Missouri and Richland, WA, where the decision was reversed a month later after school board members actually read the fucking book and found it "outstanding").

Alexie wrote a brilliant response to our stupid obsession with "protecting" teenagers from inappropriate books last year:

When some cultural critics fret about the “ever-more-appalling” YA books... they aren’t trying to protect the poor from poverty. Or victims from rapists. No, they are simply trying to protect their privileged notions of what literature is and should be. They are trying to protect privileged children. Or the seemingly privileged.

UPDATE: Reached for comment, Alexie says today, via e-mail:

Millions of parents and students love my book and about 107 people think it's evil. So it's sad that a handful of frightened prudes can have so much power. In any event, the kids who need the book will find their way to the book despite the immaturity of certain adults.

A video of Alexie reading from and discussing the novel is below the jump.

Thanks, Slog tipper Greg.


Comments (11) RSS

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Skye Blu 1
Boy I thought they'd be talking about Flight which is about a runaway and will make you cry if you have any heart at all... yay, new Sherman Alexie to read. Tell him not to worry- only the best books make it on the banned list!
Posted by Skye Blu on December 21, 2012 at 11:32 AM · Report this
seatackled 2
If we give these kids guns, maybe they'll be protected from this evil book.
Posted by seatackled on December 21, 2012 at 11:44 AM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 3
Mr Alexie, those 107 prudes show up at the PTA meetings and wail really loudly, the millions that love your books don't.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on December 21, 2012 at 11:57 AM · Report this
Nancy Pearl, book genius, said on KUOW today that she is going to Bosnia to organize a mass book reading of Mr. Alexie's book (what if all of Bosnia read the same book). She seemed very excited and I wonder what the reaction to the book will be there.
Posted by westello on December 21, 2012 at 12:15 PM · Report this
Pick1 5
Banning books has, historically, always been a sign of civilized debate and open-mindedness.

Right up there with book burnings.
Posted by Pick1 on December 21, 2012 at 12:21 PM · Report this
mr. herriman 6
My kid (8th grade) gets to read it with his class starting right after break. I'm so happy for him. I re-read it so we could talk about it. Just finished last night, in fact.
Posted by mr. herriman on December 21, 2012 at 12:32 PM · Report this
lostboy 7
Look, people trying to keep books away from teens are pathetic idiotic prudes, and it is right and good that we oppose them.

But removing a book from reading lists is not a ban.  Can we please not be the Fox News of the left?
Posted by lostboy on December 21, 2012 at 2:04 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 8
Ms lostboy, banishment or removal from the reading list is a ban-ishment.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on December 21, 2012 at 2:10 PM · Report this
@7: The American Library Association defines challenges and bans like this: "A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials." Go ahead and read the whole Herald article; I'd say there's quite clearly a discussion about removing the books from classrooms and schools. Sorry if my lede was misleading (ha-ha).
Posted by Anna Minard on December 21, 2012 at 2:32 PM · Report this
Alexie is awesome.
Posted by MemeGene on December 22, 2012 at 9:31 AM · Report this
Ballard Pimp 11
During the early 1930s the Nazis did not burn Bertoldt Brecht's books. He said that made it clear that either they didn't read his work, or they didn't understand it.
Posted by Ballard Pimp on December 31, 2012 at 10:34 PM · Report this

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