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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Presque vu XII

Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children has been banned in Malaysia. It joins Michel Houellebecq’s Atomised, Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues and a host of other texts which have been proscribed by:

… some barely literate little Napoleon – to borrow Pak Lah’s term – sitting behind a KDN desk in Johor Bahru, (who) has decided that the book is not suitable for Malaysians

Go to BiblioBibuli for more details. Oh, and it’s 2006 now, we’ve learned some things. One of them is that censorship doesn’t work. It never did and it never will.


John Barlow has an admission to make on his site:

When I was invited to say something about page 69 of my novel Intoxicated, I turned to the page in question and shuddered. The text on that particular page, a description of a garden, was plagiarised. I took it from John Halifax, Gentleman, by Mrs Dinah Craik, a popular novelist of the mid-nineteenth century.


Spiegel Online has a piece on the growing population of the dispossessed, Globalization and the European Underclass:

In the West, gradual de-industrialization has created a new underclass of the unproductive and intellectually depraved. The spiritual cousin of the American phenomenon of “white trash,” these strangers in their own land have become a serious threat to democracy.

The modern-day member of the underclass is not hungry. He has a roof over his head, he is not disproportionately vulnerable to illness and he even has a bit of cash in his pocketbook. In every Western European country, he is both a citizen and a beneficiary of the welfare state, even if the state’s services are no longer as generous as they once were.

The article, which was brought to my attention by A Reader’s Words, claims that forty percent of the alcohol sold in Germany is consumed by only eight percent of the population.


Go take a look at the Neglected Books Page, where you’ll find lists of thousands of books that have been neglected, overlooked, forgotten, or stranded by changing tides in critical or popular taste. A juicy site, this one, especially for lovers of lists. But I didn’t find Arthur Morrison’s The Hole in the Wall there, which would be very close to the top of my personal list of neglected books.

3 Responses to “Presque vu XII”

  1. Joel says:

    Last week BBC Radio 4 described “The Mujahideen Poisons Handbook” as a “banned book”. Presumably if I download the PDF of it to my PC from the web I will be in serious trouble. Every society has its taboos. I don’t think we can say much about what Malaysia bans if we in the UK have books that mere possession of will compromise our safety.

    jb says: Hi Joel, I think we should point out censorship wherever it happens. Repressive governments only thrive when everyone keeps quiet and toes the line.

  2. John Baker says:

    No sooner had I suggested Arthur Morrison’s Hole in the Wall to the Neglected Books Site, than it appeared on their list.
    This is a site to watch and could become a great resource for publishers.