Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Banned Books Become Most Widely Read!

We long suspected it, didn't we, but it seems that it really is true: nothing promotes a book half as well as much as banning it!

The Iranian government banned Gabriel Garcia Marquez's A Memory of My Melancholy Whores, even after the title was changed to Memories of My Melancholy Sweethearts to get past the censors.

But now, reports Global Voices Online, thousands of Iranians have downloaded the free version of the book from the Internet.

On our own banned books front, one book which was not exactly banned but withdrawn from sale by its publisher Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia at the behest of the Ministry of Information. Photocopies of former communist leader Shamsiah Fakeh's memoir passed hand-to-hand, but now the book is available again, this time published by the Strategic Information and Research Development Centre.

Her son, Jamaludin Ibrahim who helped Shamsiah to set down her memories was there at the launch on November 18th and talked about his mother's experiences to the Star:
She got lost in the jungle for as long as five nights. She was dirty, cold at night, wet, lonely and afraid. She foraged for food, even eating tree roots. There were times she starved. ... But the eight years in the jungle made her a strong woman and she persevered. She had no regrets because she fought for what believed in ...
There's a Malay and Chinese version of the book, which you can buy via Kinibooks, and I really hope there will be an English one soon too as this is a book that should be available to the wider world.

Still on the subject of banned books, another seven books:
...whose contents distort the sanctity of Islam and its true teachings (and) could create confusion and anxiety among Muslims and harm public peace if their publications were allowed to continue
were banned by the Internal Security Ministry:
They are Tajul Muluk; Fiqh Perempuan; Tasawuf Perenial Kearifan Kritis Kaum Sufi; Kumpulan Ilmu Ghaib; The Muslim Jesus: Kisah dan Sabda Yesus dalam Literatur Islam; Penyembuhan Cara Sufi and Kitab Kaysf Al-Asrar.
So ... titles about Jesus written from the Islamic perspective, and a book about Sufism.

I have no more information about these titles so would be grateful if any readers could shed some light ...

Found this fascinating little chart in the November issue of Off The Edge. it gives the breakdown of reasons books being banned in Malaysia since 1971. It is taken from the information collected as part of Sharon Chin's exhibition on banned books. (Click to fully enlarge.)


Jiwa Rasa said...

I considered myself lucky to having bought Shamsiah Fakeh's book earlier. That part about Shamsiah and her baby was the most touching...

Anonymous said...

Talk about anachronisms :) it's odd in a way isn't it ? how these people get into the govt machinery and end up being forgotten. Govt can't fire them either, there's no reason to. Maybe they could be redesignated, but what else are they good for ?

Anonymous said...

When I first saw the 2 banned titles revolving on Jesus from Islamic perspective, I jumped too, it doesn't sound right. Only for a few seconds though, until I mentally translated it to Nabi Isa... oooo..ok:)

Anonymous said...

I don't know why people will tag Shamsiah Fakeh as a terrorist... She really fights for her country , at least better then some people who claim themselves fight for the country but actually on the british side all the time . If she really wants the money, glory , or status, she better join UMNO then that time... UMNO do nothing.. .. just sitting waiting communist to fight and then takes communist victory saying they are the one who actually fights for the country ..what a jerk.