"The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame."
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Last time I went back to India I smuggled The Satanic Verses. This time I will smuggle James Laine's Shivaji. I wish to extend this smuggling operation to all of you back home who wish to read books 'others' have decided that you shouldn't. Luckily, books banned in India are not banned in the US and Amazon has most of them available. Let me know the title and send me the URL. US-India shipping is free.

This IE List is a good place to start, but is woefully incomplete. It left out The Satanic Verses and Taslima Nasrin's Dwikhandito!


Anirudh said...

I know a few people in India who've got The Satanic Verses. I intend to read it. Not very soon though. I want to read some others by Rushdie before that.

Anirudh said...

And bans are indeed very irritating. The fact that people are ready to kill and fight over such things shows one that humans are still, in many ways, animals. Or, at least, very foolish.

Hirak said...

Most people who oppose such books have never read them and prefer to believe the hearsay around them.
In India, 'public sentiments' are given more preference than 'civilized debates'. The least religious are the most eager to violently defend it.

Bhavna said...

I agree. It is unfair no doubt. But given that we live in dangerous times and that it takes very little to trigger religious and ethnic tensions, I'd rather have the silly book bans than the bloodshed and the riots. What-to-do ?

Anirudh said...


What you say is perhaps true. But then, perhaps not. I know I am saying next to nothing with this comment, but I can't say which scenario I'd prefer. In principle, of course, there shouldn't be any book bans. But then, it is easy for us to sit at home and say such things while there are riots outside.

Unfortunately, the education one is given in school is largely academic and so perhaps, illiteracy is not the problem here.

I don't why a few people are liberal and open-minded, but most are not. If only there could be some way in which mass open-mindedness could be accomplished.

Anirudh said...

And by the way, all those three comments were by Anirudh Karnick. Not Garg. :)

Anand said...

I always thought that the Satanic Verses was available here--that Pune bookseller gave it me all to easily.
Mass open-mindedness is an oxymoron, methinks. Anyway, how many actually read ?

Javed said...

The point that needs to be understood is what happens if you don't ban something that is 'intentionally' written or said to provoke. Can we then agree beyond reasonable doubt that not banning it, won't make any difference to the readers or to those who subscribe to the ideas that have been challanged or (more often than not) misinterpreted? I think not.

Sumedha said...

The point is that as intelligent adults, we should have the sense to discriminate without the government imposing ban after ban. We're not credulous children.
This is like men saying that women dress to 'provoke' them; what about their self-control?

Hirak said...

What stops the 'provoked' from writing 10 books in defence of what is being criticized?
Everybody has a right to hear both sides of the story. An idea will survive if it has some merit.

What about 'boycott'?
That is the best way to hurt a writer. Banning is stupid because it is so counter-productive. It makes the book more famous and attracts more attention that it really deserves.

Why the 'violence'?
Despite superficial appearances, it has no relation to a book being banned or not banned. As the recent Laine incident showed that much after the book was banned, a small group of people decided to ransack a library which had little to do with the book itself. Violence can erupt anytime and it almost always orchestrated for political effect.