Made the list in 2010, 2011 and 2013
There is a movement within the science fiction and fantasy community to restrain the increasing diversity of award-winning novels. Too many women and minorities are writing them, too many of them include women and minorities as protagonists instead of decoration. The effort to turn back the clock and return straight white men to their rightful, historic, and God-given place of supreme power is being led by a rather creepy Rabid Puppy and a couple of Sad Puppies. (See Freeping the Hugos
for a full explanation of how they are changing the meaning of the highly respected Hugo Award.)
Increasingly, thugs on the right—whether they are fans of science fiction, guns, or games—seem to be calling for a return to a time when straight white males were in control of our society. Last week, Josh Kilburn, writing for Americans Against the Tea Party, pointed out the meaning behind the rhetoric of Wayne LaPierre:
Wayne LaPierre has a message for America: while addressing a crowd of Second Amendment advocates at the NRA’s 144th annual meeting, the NRA’s CEO and Executive Vice President said, “eight years of one demographically symbolic president is enough.”
Or, to translate from racist code to English: we’re tired of these uppity minorities; let’s make the White House white (and male) again.
The anger that these men express is clear in all of their activities: The tea party/GOP was willing to destroy America's credit rather than raise the debt ceiling as long as President Obama worked in the Oval Office. The Gamergaters published personal information among rape and death threats, aimed at women game developers in an attempt to drive them from the long male-dominated world of video games. And the writers wanted the Hugo Awards and the literature of science fiction to reflect only their own personal values.
Head below the fold for more.
There is an ongoing battle against diversity in the literature of our libraries. The American Library Association (ALA), in its newly released report, "The State of America's Libraries," (pdf) has listed those books that that have been challenged the most in the past year, as determined by the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom.
Works written by people of color, or works written about characters of diversity, have had no problem making the list of the top 10 every year in the last decade. Author Malinda Lo has analyzed the lists of the past 10 years and found that over half, 52 percent, fell into one of those two categories. What is concerning about this year's list is that according to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, that figure has jumped to 80 percent.
What follows is a list of the top 10 challenged books in America in 2014. I have included a brief description of the book and links to Amazon and Goodreads where more information can be obtained. Following the description are the reasons that were given in the ALA report of why the books were challenged.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie
Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.
: Anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/ smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence.
: "depictions of bullying."
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
by Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis is the story of Satrapi's unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming--both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.
Edgy, searingly observant, and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom--Persepolis is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularly talented graphic artists at work today.
: Gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint.
: "politically, racially, and socially offensive," "graphic depictions."
And Tango Makes Three
by Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell, and Henry Cole (Illustrator)
In the zoo there are all kinds of animal families. But Tango's family is not like any of the others. This illustrated children's book fictionalizes the true story of two male penguins who became partners and raised a penguin chick in the Central Park Zoo.
: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group.
: "promotes the homosexual agenda."
The Bluest Eye (Vintage International)
by Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison's first novel, a book heralded for its richness of language and boldness of vision. Set in the author's girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America. In the autumn of 1941, the year the marigolds in the Breedloves' garden do not bloom. Pecola's life does change- in painful, devastating ways.
What its vivid evocation of the fear and loneliness at the heart of a child's yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment. The Bluest Eye remains one of Tony Morrisons's most powerful, unforgettable novels- and a significant work of American fiction.
: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group.
: "contains controversial issues."
It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health (The Family Library)
by Robie Harris
When young people have questions about sex, real answers can be hard to find. Providing accurate, unbiased answers to nearly every imaginable question, from conception and puberty to birth control and AIDS, IT'S PERFECTLY NORMAL offers young people the information they need now more than ever to make responsible decisions and to stay healthy.
Already used as a trusted resource in twenty-five countries around the world (and translated into twenty-one languages), IT'S PERFECTLY NORMAL marks its tenth anniversary with a thoroughly updated edition that includes the latest information on such topics as birth control, hepatitis, HIV, and adoption, among others. This definitive new edition also reflects the recent input of parents, teachers, librarians, clergy, scientists, health professionals, and young readers themselves.
: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group.
: "alleges it [to be] child pornography."
by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.
From New York Times bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina) and critically acclaimed artist Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40), Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.
: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini
The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father's servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption, and it is also about the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.
The first Afghan novel to be written in English, The Kite Runner tells a sweeping story of family, love, and friendship against a backdrop of history that has not been told in fiction before, bringing to mind the large canvases of the Russian writers of the nineteenth century. But just as it is old-fashioned in its narration, it is contemporary in its subject—the devastating history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years. As emotionally gripping as it is tender, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful debut.
: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
by Stephen Chbosky
Charlie is a freshman.
And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.
Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can't stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group.
: "date rape and masturbation."
A Stolen Life: A Memoir
by Jaycee Dugard
In the summer of 1991 I was a normal kid. I did normal things. I had friends and a mother who loved me. I was just like you. Until the day my life was stolen.
For eighteen years I was a prisoner. I was an object for someone to use and abuse.
For eighteen years I was not allowed to speak my own name. I became a mother and was forced to be a sister. For eighteen years I survived an impossible situation.
On August 26, 2009, I took my name back. My name is Jaycee Lee Dugard. I don’t think of myself as a victim. I survived.
A Stolen Life is my story—in my own words, in my own way, exactly as I remember it.
: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group
by Raina Telgemeier
Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school's production of Moon Over Mississippi, she can't really sing. Instead she's the set designer for the drama department stage crew, and this year she's determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn't know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen. And when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!
: Sexually explicit.
It would appear from this list that, as a nation, we are absolutely terrified of sex, followed only by a fear of the "homosexual agenda," with violence being way down on the list. In reading the negative reviews of these 10 books, I was struck by the recurrence of the same theme that was part of the Sad/Mad Puppies upset in the Hugos: there is a liberal conspiracy to force a politically correct worldview down the throats of our children. Because life couldn't just be more diverse and more beautifully strange than our narrow-minded fellow citizens wish to believe it to be.
Librarians, however, rock. While acknowledging that attempts to censor reading materials for children is prompted by a desire to protect them from inappropriate sexual content or language, they state on their website:
Although this is a commendable motivation, Free Access to Libraries for Minors, an interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights (ALA's basic policy concerning access to information) states that, “Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents—and only parents—have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.” Censorship by librarians of constitutionally protected speech, whether for protection or for any other reason, violates the First Amendment.