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School Board Bans Ellison's Invisible Man

Member found 'no literary value' in award-winning racial narrative
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2013 10:23 AM CDT

(Newser) – A North Carolina county school board has voted to ban Ralph Ellison's acclaimed novel Invisible Man from school libraries, after a parent complained about its language, its sexual content, and the fact that it was written in the first person. "I didn't find any literary value," one board member said. "I'm not allowing it to be available." Also in the 5-2 majority was the board chairman, who called the book a "very hard read," the Asheboro Courier-Tribune reports.

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Originally published in 1952, Invisible Man describes the struggles of black Americans of that era. It won the National Book Award in 1953, and Time once named it one of the top 100 English-language novels of all time, Raw Story points out. It's on North Carolina's list of suggested works for high school students, and advisory committees at both the school and district level recommended against banning it. But the board sided with the mother of one 11th-grader, who, in a 12-page document, complained that:

  • "The narrator writes in the first person, emphasizing his individual experiences and his feelings about the events portrayed in his life. The novel is not so innocent; instead this book is filthier, too much for teenagers. You must respect all religions and points of views when it comes to the parents and what they feel is age appropriate for their young children."
(Read more book ban stories.)

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