Tag: sherman alexie

When Your Book Is Banned: The Author’s Perspective

What is the impact on authors when their books are banned from schools, libraries, and elsewhere? What challenges do they face? Does it affect sales or marketing? Does it change what or how they write going forward, or impact their ability to sell their next book? Much of the public discourse focuses on the politics at play and the content of the books, but relatively little attention gets paid to how book bans affect the authors.

Join us to kick off Banned Books Week with the authors of books that have been frequently banned. Sherman Alexie, Jonathan Evison, and Ellen Hopkins will discuss their personal experiences with book bans, the rise of challenges, and their attitudes toward writing in this climate. The panel will be moderated by Cheryl Davis, general counsel of the Authors Guild.

The event will take place via Zoom with automatic closed captioning. A recording will be made available for those who cannot attend live. To request any other accessibility features, please email support@authorsguild.org and we will make every effort to accommodate.

Banned Spotlight: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Sherman Alexie’s National Book Award-winning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has appeared on ALA’s top ten challenged books list six times since its 2007 publication. In 2017, it held the #2 slot on the list due to challenges based on profanity and situations that were deemed sexually explicit.

The protagonist and first-person narrator of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is 14-year-old Arnold Spirit Jr, or Junior. The budding cartoonist lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation, and he leaves the rez to attend an all-white high school. Alexie drew from his own experiences for the novel, which addresses themes of racial identity, coming of age, bullying, violence, poverty, and more with Alexie’s characteristic humor. Artist Ellen Forney provided illustrations for the novel. In addition to winning the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, True Diary also win the Horn Book Award and the California Young Reader Medal. School Library Journal named it a best book of 2007 and the Young Adult Library Services Association included it among their Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults.

In 2017, a school board in Nome, Alaska, eliminated True Diary from an alternative reading list for high school students. It was removed along with Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, and J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, and was the only novel of the four restored after a contentious school board meeting. The removals happened as a result of a single parent’s complaint about content in the books.

In 2017, it was also challenged in Alton, Illinois; Thousand Oaks, California; Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin; and the New London-Spicer Schools in Minnesota. Reasons for the challenges varied from “shocking words of profanity, sexual innuendo and violence” to “gratuitous and unnecessary” profanity and reference to sexual acts. The challenges were eventually defeated in these four cases.

Earlier this year, allegations of sexual misconduct were leveled against Alexie. The allegations were not a factor in challenges in 2017 and previous years. Jamie LaRue, director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, addresses the controversy with Publishers Weekly.