No, not that Invisible Man.
Yes, we write about the horror genre here, but the book under question is this one:
Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, which won the National Book Award in 1953 and is counted among the top 100 novels of the 20th century by the Modern Library, was just banned in Randolph County, North Carolina.
It’s a different kind of horrifying than what we usually talk about here, although the confusion is understandable, I guess– even Google Books makes mistakes (link here). Invisible Man addresses many of the social issues African-Americans faced during the middle of the 20th century, especially in the South. Rather than physical invisibility, Ellison’s narrator describes himself as socially invisible, and is a part of the “underground”. This is the book that the school board in Randolph County, North Carolina, voted 5-2 to remove from school libraries and reading lists (link here).
Banned Books week starts September 22. That’s Monday. This incident will, I’m sure, give Invisible Man some new visibility.
It’s been interesting following the news regarding banned and challenged books since last year’s Banned Books Week. Alan Moore’s graphic novel Neonomicon was removed from the library of Greenville, South Carolina in December of 2012; The Diary of Anne Frank was challenged in Michigan (it stayed); Marjane Satrapi’s incredible graphic novel Persepolis was removed from the Chicago Public Schools to public outrage (and restored); the anti-war manga classic Barefoot Gen was banned and then restored to libraries in a school district in Japan; and emails revealed that the former governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels, had attempted to influence the textbook adoption process to prevent A People’s History of the United States from being taught in Indiana schools (not that that ever would have happened here anyway) and teacher education classes; and an Alabama senator attempted to remove Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye from state reading lists. With this week’s removal of The Invisible Man from North Carolina schools, that makes seven times I’ve seen banned and challenged books make the news, and there are so many more cases out there that I’ve never heard of, or that haven’t been reported to anyone at all. And none of that includes the many other cases of censorship around the world.
To learn more about Banned Books Week, visit the website for Project Censored here and the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week here. And to discover more about banned books and media visit our Pinterest board on Banned Books here. Trust me, I worked hard on it and it is awesome. As for the kids of Randolph County, I’ll quote them Stephen King:
Don’t get mad, get even… Run, don’t walk, to the nearest nonschool library or to the local bookstore and get whatever it is they banned. Read whatever they’re trying to keep out of your eyes and your brain, because that’s exactly what you need to know.
Well said, Mr. King.
Not everyone, everywhere, has that choice. This week is a great time to celebrate that in this country, you can, in fact, do exactly that.