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.