Banned But Brilliant


Banned In Boston

Banned in Boston. That used to be an almost sure way to sell a copy of your book. The more controversial, the more copies it would sell. It was instant demand. A marketing bonanza.

But what about banning a book when it's not for promotional purposes? One can only imagine the harm it might do to a community if the book was available -- or even worse, read by the public. How those people will be corrupted on moral grounds, the fiber of their very existence challenged at the highest levels.

Fortunately, those good people in Randolph County, North Carolina are saved. Sixty years after it was first published, this piece of literary smut, unadulterated trash, has been deemed inappropriate for their community and stripped from the shelves. Praise the Lord.

Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

The book in question is Ralph Ellison's 1952 novel, Invisible Man -- not to be confused with H.G. Wells novel The Invisible Man. That was a classic. Evidently, according to The Courier-Tribune newspaper in Asheboro, N.C., Ellison's landmark book was no so classic.

In a 5-2 vote, the school board voted to ban the book, with one board member, Gary Mason, stating, "I didn’t find any literary value."

Well, we're all entitled to our own opinions about literary value. But let me put this in perspective. This same Invisible Man won the 1953 National Book Award for fiction, beating out Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea and John Steinbeck's East of Eden.


In 1995, writing for the New York Times, Roger Rosenblatt praised the novel as a masterpiece.

"Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man," which won the National Book Award in 1953, was instantly recognized as a masterpiece, a novel that captured the grim realities of racial discrimination as no book had, " Rosenblatt wrote. "Its reputation grew as Ellison retreated into a mythic literary silence that made his one achievement definitive."

The accolades don't stop there. Invisible man is included on Time Magazine's list of 100 Best English Language Novels since Time's founding in 1923.

With all of this pedigree, the book was still not deemed appropriate for the Randolph County, North Carolina's school district. First North Carolina tries to illegally abolish abortion. Then they try to take away minority voting rights. Now they're telling the people what they can or cannot read.

Is this the real Tar Heel state?

One can argue they don't like the book, but to deem it devoid of "literary value" is a disservice to the people of this community as well as the to human race for including this critic Gary Mason among them.

Wake up North Carolina. It's 2013.