10 Controversial Books Banned In Different Countries All Around The World

But can you guess which of these are banned in Malaysia too?

Cover image via OverDrive , All Books Hub , Wikipedia

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While reading has always been credited as a source of knowledge, what happens when certain authors take their stories too far?

What makes a good book? Well, a controversial storyline is an interesting way to get a novel up and running in the press. But can the same be said for books that ride the line of morality, free speech, and virtue, among others? 

Here are 10 books, some by the most prestigious authors around the world, that were not looked upon with the same endearment as others may have been. Instead, they were banned by a country, sometimes even more than just a few, for their disputable 'offensive nature'.

Treat this as a guessing game! How many of these books were banned in Malaysia?

1. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

We may all know the beloved Disney cartoon, but have you ever read its paperbound counterpart?

Beginning with the main protagonist, Alice, falling down a rabbit hole and into a magical world of anthropological animals, she soon finds herself in a series of misfortunes and wild adventures that hardly seem believable in the real world.

Image via Wikipedia

Book status in Malaysia: Not banned.

Where it is banned: China

Oddly enough, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was banned in China for its portrayal of animals behaving at the same levels of intricacies as human beings.

From the White Rabbit, Cheshire Cat, and the hookah smoking Caterpillar turned Butterfly, the censorship stood from a fear that teaching children of animals which possessed such unrealistic complexities was an insult to human intelligence.

2. The entire Fifty Shades trilogy, E L James

When Anastasia Steele intervenes to help her sick roommate interview a prominent businessman, Christian Grey, little does she know that the crossing of their paths would change her life forever.

Rich and powerful, Christian leads the inexperienced Ana down a road of sexual proclivities, and delves into a secret world which straddles the boundaries of pain and pleasure.

Image via Goodreads

Book status in Malaysia: BANNED.

As one of the most highly anticipated films of that year, it was a tad surprising that the Fifty Shades movie was not given the green light to premier in Malaysia. However, it was rather unsurprising that the book series was also restricted from release due to its labelled, 'sadistic' material and 'threat to morality' for Malaysians.

3. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

Released in the 1950s, Lolita tells a tale from the perspective of an aged literature professor, who goes by a pseudonym due to the inappropriate nature of his story.

Describing his obsession with a 12-year-old girl, Dolores Haze, whom he calls in private, 'Lolita', various erotic depictions are described between the elder man and the prepubescent minor.

Book status in Malaysia: Not banned.

Where it is banned: UK, France, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, and Argentina.

Not hard to believe, Lolita received immense backlash after its release. With disturbing plot lines including scenes of molestation, abduction, and even technical incest, many wonder how even the summary of this book has not encouraged Malaysian officials to remove it from potential purchase. Nonetheless, some are completely unsurprised.

4. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis

One of the more straightforward plot lines among the bunch, American Psycho depicts the everyday life of Wall Street tycoon, Patrick Bateman.

While the story follows certain simplistic aspects of the young man’s regime and work ethic, this story turns dark to reveal the psychopathic nature of a person who uses his power and privileged to torture the lives of others.

Book status in Malaysia: Not banned.

Where it is banned: Queensland, Australia (for children below 18).

Romanticising apathy, void, and malignant narcissism, American Psycho delves into the interesting topic of how racial and monetary privilege can influence the human mind as to what is really dangerous or not.

Providing insight as to the consequences of social and cultural opinions formed by consumerism and modern-day capitalism, it would seem that humanising these horrendous character traits were not something Queensland officials wanted their youth to gain access.

5. Sophie's Choice, William Styron

Following the life of a Roman Catholic survivor of the Holocaust, Sophie Zawistowka is met by a novelist who is intrigued by her relationship with her current lover, more specifically the facts surrounding their tumultuous relationship.

Getting to know the Polish beauty, traumatic psychological, moral, and emotional repercussions of her troubled past is broken down in detail, culminating to the single choice she had to make at the brink of her arrival in Auschwitz that will haunt her for the rest of her days.

Book status in Malaysia: Not banned.

Where it is banned: South Africa, Poland, and Lebanon.

It's hard to imagine any other adaptation than the one Meryl Streep gave in the movie depiction of this film. Yet in Lebanon, Sophie's Choice was pulled off the shelves for its apparent positive depiction of Jewish people.

Considering how this book was centred around one of the most brutal attacks against individuals of a particular race, it is a stark wonder how this book was banned for its rather constructive aspects in a hopeless world.

Moreover, South Africa and Poland took a stand against the author, banning the book for how his personal views of the Holocaust were shaped in the novel.

6. Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller

An autobiography of sorts, this fictional piece details a hyperbolic life of Henry Miller himself. Elaborating on his struggle as a writer in the 1920s and 1930s, Miller includes the names and characterisations of his real friends and colleagues in the characters, though certain stories are based in semi-consciousness, fluctuating between reality and fiction, the past and the present.

Book status in Malaysia: Not banned.

Where it is banned: USA (Was banned in Finland, South Africa, Canada, UK, and Australia).

Largely based around topics of sexuality, Tropic of Cancer was primarily banned for the exploits described by Miller in his sexual encounters.

Chronicled as undeniably low by American scholar Donald Gutierrez, casual homophobia was also made satirical, with erotic desires periodically surfacing in the novel that was deemed improper and indecent.

7. Mask of Sanity, Jacob M Appel

Dr Jeremy Balint is the pillar of his community. On one end, he is a renowned division chief at the hospital he works at, great father to his kids, and a devoted husband.

Things changed, however, when he discovers that his wife is having an affair with his longtime friend cum colleague. Devising a plan to eliminate this man in cold blood, Jeremy transforms into a high-functioning sociopath that cultivates on his ethical guise to get what he wants.

Book status in Malaysia: BANNED.

One of the newer books on the list, Mask of Sanity was released in 2017, and preemptively banned by Malaysian authorities. While this may come across as your typical murder story, certain blasphemous themes caused this book to be banned.

Among them are some of the characteristics displayed by our main antagonist, particularly his actual belief that he is rightfully just in committing his crimes, unfazed by any legal or moral obligation he has to human life.

8. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown

The first book of a well-known trilogy by Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code follows symbologist Robert Langdon on his trip to solve a murder in Paris' Louvre Museum.

Interestingly enough, cryptic clues are found in some of Leonardo da Vinci's famous paintings, opening up a religious mystery of epic proportions. Beneath such mysteries however, lie a secret society within the Roman Catholic Church that could threaten the sanctity and very foundation which the religion is built on.

Book status in Malaysia: Not banned.

Where it is banned: The Vatican (Heavily restricted in India, Manila, and Lebanon).

Generating criticism and controversy since its release, The Da Vinci Code was primarily critiqued on the inaccuracies which contradict Brown's preface on the first page of his novel: Fact.

Nonetheless, Catholic leaders, primarily in Vatican City, were quick to condemn the novel and encouraged stripping the book from shelves all around the world for historical and scientific errors.

9. Rage, Stephen King (Richard Bachman)

Charlie Decker is pulled out of his algebra class to speak to the school principal, and discuss his recent physical attack on a teacher. With the conversation unavailing a fruitful conclusion, Decker attains a gun he kept in his school locker, and reenters his classroom to terrorise (and murder) his teacher and fellow classmates.

Oscillating between memories of the past and present day, the story ultimately unveils how Charlie was brought to his grizzly decision to commit a school shooting.

Book status in Malaysia: Not banned.

Where it is banned: USA (Kind of).

While the story itself was King's first attempt at using a pseudonym to publish his works (due to his impeccable talent of churning out books faster than they could be published), what was to come from it was a true nightmare.

Vaguely resembling its core plot, multiple school shooters were inspired by the Rage to commit shootings in the United States. One of the most eery however, was the 1996 middle school shooting in Washington where Barry Loukaitis shot his algebra teacher in front of the entire class, and proceeded to quote a line from the book.

Not hard to believe, Stephen King decided to let the book fall out of print, responding to the criticism that his book inspired these brutal shootings in a 2013 essay titled, 'Guns'.

10. The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie

Beginning with a story of two very famous Indian ex-patriots now living lavish and refined lives in England, their paths cross when a jetliner they board is hijacked and exploded by terrorists. Washing up on a beach, both men proceed to have a series of dreams, revelations, and philosophical metamorphoses.

Book status in Malaysia: BANNED.

An American-British novelist, Salman Rushdie is known for combining the ideals of magical realism and historical fiction to create numerous works that have garnered notorious recognition. The Satanic Verses however, gained attention for widespread negative criticism.

While the book touched on a series of political, cultural, and sociological themes, this book has been banned in over 15 countries around the world for its blasphemous references to Islam.

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