Monday, 14 December 2015

Book Marks: Still Feels Like Banned Books Week, Etc.

During the launch of her book, Dancing on Thin Ice, Marina Mahathir stated that as a writer, censorship is the biggest hurdle, according to The Malaysian Insider.

She also mentioned the threat of censorship that loomed over writers Faisal Tehrani and Farouk Peru, and considered the rape threat made to G25 spokesperson Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin as another form of censorship, particularly against women writers.

Funny that she brought up the C-word, because some related news items that caught my eye revolves around that.

A high-profile book publisher (more of a rabble-rouser, judging from what's being said about the stuff he publishes) whose work annoyed China's government disappeared in Thailand, and it's said that Beijing might be responsible. Some note that the MO is so North Korea.

Considering the impenetrability of China's bureaucracy, it's easy to accuse a government that does things like jailing dissenters and "disappearing" annoying people of such cloak-and-dagger shenanigans. On a possibly related note, a lawyer in Prague who wrote a political book has gone missing.

Egypt's state security, meanwhile, forced Egyptian novelist (and critic of the Egyptian government) Alaa al-Aswany to cancel his public seminar, "Conspiracy Theory: Between Reality and Illusion".

And more Mein Kampf woes: Marianne Taylor makes the case for publishing Hitler's notorious manifesto in Germany for first time in over seven decades. But it still seems to be problematic in the US, as the copyright is set to end.

Also in the US, Jessica Herthel, the author of I Am Jazz, a children's book based on a real-life transgendered girl, confronts the bigotry that forced a school to cancel a reading of her book, possibly due to pressure from a conservative group calling itself Liberty Counsel (yes). And schools in America are still grappling with Huckleberry Finn.

The Malaysian Education Ministry ordered a publisher to reprint a Year Six History textbook that placed the state of Melaka somewhere in Kelantan on a map. Some people are befuddled at this error, since this publisher, which I assume is local, is neither CNN nor Fox News.

Then someone pointed out that a local news portal incorrectly said that Bintulu is a city in the East Malaysian state of Sabah, adding, "Sarawak is almost as big as the peninsula, and Sabah is this huge state with a distinctive map-shape & STILL U CANNOT GEOGRAPHY?!"

I'm so saving "U CANNOT GEOGRAPHY" for future use.

Are rude rejection letters from publishers holding back the next JK Rowling? "Codswallop", goes one commentator. "Could publishers be nicer? Probably. So too could literary agents. But they're ploughing through hundreds of thousands of words looking for the good ones. Often the only word they don't want to use, despite them being pretty snooty, is 'no'."

I'm inclined to agree. The worst are probably those who want an explanation of why their 'scripts were rejected - and dismiss it anyway because "Do you know what I went through to write this?" and other reasons.


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