Jump to content



Banned Books Week: And the Winner Is...


Recommended Posts

(If you have no idea what I'm talking about: go read this thread and then this thread.)


Banned Books Week is coming up (starts on September 24) and the Brown Ajah will be hosting a BBW event. One of the activities will be a book discussion, and the book that got the most votes is...


The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.


The Handmaid's Tale is number 88 on the Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009 list and number 37 on the 100 most frequently challenged books: 1990–1999 list.



From Wikipedia:


The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian novel, a work of science fiction or speculative fiction, written by Canadian author Margaret Atwood and first published by McClelland and Stewart in 1985. Set in the near future, in a totalitarian theocracy which has overthrown the United States government, The Handmaid's Tale explores themes of women in subjugation and the various means by which they gain agency. The novel was inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, which is a series of connected stories ("The Merchant's Tale", "The Parson's Tale", etc.).


The Handmaid's Tale won the 1985 Governor General's Award and the first Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987, and it was nominated for the 1986 Nebula Award, the 1986 Booker Prize, and the 1987 Prometheus Award. It has been adapted for the cinema, radio, opera, and stage.


Frequent challenges, ALA conference, and controversy

The American Library Association (ALA) lists The Handmaid's Tale as number 37 on the "100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000".


Atwood participated in discussing The Handmaid's Tale as "the subject of the ALA's first conference-wide discussion series, 'One Book, One Conference,' which was so successful that its Public Programs Office was considering hosting a second series in 2004."


According to Education Reporter Kristin Rushowy of the Toronto Star (16 Jan. 2009), in 2008 a parent in Toronto, Canada, wrote a letter to his son's high school principal, asking that the book no longer be assigned as required reading, stating that the novel is "rife with brutality towards and mistreatment of women (and men at times), sexual scenes, and bleak depression." Rushowy quotes the response of Russell Morton Brown, a retired University of Toronto English professor, who acknowledged that "The Handmaid's Tale wasn't likely written for 17-year-olds, 'but neither are a lot of things we teach in high school, like Shakespeare. … 'And they are all the better for reading it. They are on the edge of adulthood already, and there's no point in coddling them,' he said, adding, 'they aren't coddled in terms of mass media today anyway.' … He said the book has been accused of being anti-Christian and, more recently, anti-Islamic because the women are veiled and polygamy is allowed. … But that 'misses the point,' said Brown. 'It's really anti-fundamentalism.' " In her earlier account (14 Jan. 2009), Rushowy indicates that, in response to the parent's complaint, a Toronto District School Board committee was "reviewing the novel"; while noting that "The Handmaid's Tale is listed as one of the 100 'most frequently challenged books' from 1990 to 1999 on the American Library Association's website", Rushowy reports that "The Canadian Library Association says there is 'no known instance of a challenge to this novel in Canada' but says the book was called anti-Christian and pornographic by parents after being placed on a reading list for secondary students in Texas in the 1990s."

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...