Translated from the Chinese by Carlos Rojas, ‘The Four Books’ by Yan Lianke is set in a labour camp in the ninety-ninth district near the Yellow River in north China where the Theologian, the Scholar, the Musician, the Author and other disgraced intellectuals are tasked with growing crops and smelting steel as part of their political “re-education”. The camp is led by a juvenile commander known as the Child who is also seeking approval from the “higher ups” in the party. However, as the economy fails and famine sets in, the inmates are left to survive on their own in appalling conditions. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Banned Books
I originally intended to write a blog post about ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ by Ken Kesey during Banned Books Week (27th September – 3rd October). However, I fell a bit behind with my reviewing around that time and while it’s important to have these events to spread awareness, reading banned books needn’t be restricted to just one week of the year. First published in 1962 followed by an equally famous film adaptation in 1975 starring Jack Nicholson, the story is set in a psychiatric hospital in Oregon and follows the lives of the patients who live under the controlled regime of Nurse Ratched. However, the arrival of a new patient, Randle McMurphy, who faked insanity to serve his prison sentence in what he believed would be more comfortable surroundings, soon changes everything.
The Ministry of Justice has recently banned prisoners in the UK from receiving books sent by friends and relatives. According to the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, the new restrictions on parcels received by inmates are part of an “incentives and earned privileges” scheme and aims to prevent drugs and other illegal items being smuggled into prisons.
This year, Banned Books Week runs from 22nd to 28th September. Founded in 1982 and sponsored by the American Library Association, the campaign celebrates open access to information and aims to raise awareness of intellectual freedom.
My postgraduate course is taking over pretty much my whole life at the moment. I am still finding the time to read non-academic books when I commute but I am getting very behind with writing up my reviews (also in the wrong order as I read this before ‘The Unconsoled’). I actually read ‘The Awakening’ by Kate Chopin during Banned Books Week at the beginning of October but have only just got round to writing this blog post. Hopefully, I will catch up by Christmas…!
‘The Awakening’ tells the story of Edna Pontellier, a young Creole woman trapped in an unhappy marriage who is capable of (shock horror) independent thought and marital infidelity. Her modern views on motherhood and femininity even cause her husband, Leonce, to seek medical advice. During a holiday, she meets Robert and falls for him. Inevitably, there are tragic consequences. Continue reading