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Book News: Mich. School System Won't Ban Anne Frank's 'Pornographic' Diary

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Last week, the mother of a seventh-grader in Northville, Mich., filed a complaint seeking to keep an unexpurgated version of Anne Frank's Diary off of middle school shelves because she felt a passage describing the female genitalia was "pornographic." But a review committee has decided to keep the book in the curriculum. In a letter excerpted by the Observer & Eccentric, Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services Robert Behnke states that "the committee felt strongly that a decision to remove the use of 'Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl – The Definitive Edition' as a choice within this larger unit of study would effectively impose situational censorship by eliminating the opportunity for the deeper study afforded by this edition."
  • Lisa Levy challenges Alain de Botton's How To Think More About Sex in the Los Angeles Review of Books. "There is something ersatz, if not quite fraudulent, about de Botton's entire intellectual enterprise," she writes, adding that it might be "the most boring book ever written about sex." (However, that hardly seems fair in light of Foucault's History of Sexuality, Vol. II.)
  • In an op-ed for The Guardian, author Lionel Shriver denounces the media focus on her weight and fitness instead of her work in recent interviews: "The trivilialisation of my life, character and career in the print media this last month – the reduction of what I write and believe to how I work out and what I eat – is yet more evidence of a communal mental illness."
  • "He left the hostel and took the stone path down to nothing good," Ben Marcus writes in a new short story in this week's New Yorker.
  • Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers, an account of life in the slums of Mumbai, India, that won the National Book Award, will be adapted into a play by David Hare for London's National Theatre.

The Best Books Coming Out This Week:

  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah, though it probably doesn't live up to her last novel, 2007's Half of A Yellow Sun, is still an engaging treatment of race and identity in the U.S. and Nigeria. She spoke with NPR's Scott Simon over the weekend.
  • Ru Freeman's On Sal Mal Lane is a lovely portrait of Sri Lanka in the lead-up to the country's civil war.
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