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Pullman defiant over US protests against Northern Lights

Thanks to Max Clixby for the link.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/sep/29/philip.pullman.northern.lights

Pullman defiant over US protests against Northern Lights
By Alison Flood

Philip Pullman has revealed he was delighted to discover his novel Northern Lights was one of the most "challenged" titles of the year in America, with numerous calls made to have it removed from libraries.

Pullman's children's novel, which is sold as The Golden Compass in the US, was the fourth most challenged book in 2007, according to the American Library Association, which received 420 formally submitted complaints to libraries or schools over "inappropriate content and subject matter" last year.

Writing for guardian.co.uk this morning, Pullman said his immediate response on hearing the latest figures from the ALA was "glee".

"Firstly, I had obviously annoyed a lot of censorious people, and secondly, any ban would provoke interested readers to move from the library, where they couldn't get hold of my novel, to the bookshops, where they could," Pullman said, pointing to previous objections to the film of The Golden Compass, which he said resulted in soaring book sales.

It's a point given added weight by a promotion featuring censored books currently running at Borders bookshops. According to one of the chain's buyers, Rob Hughes, it has been"very successful", generating considerable interest in books which have been banned around the world in the past.

"It's a way of measuring the morals of today against those of yesterday," he said, adding that Borders have no plans to include books by Philip Pullman in the promotion.

Northern Lights, the first in Pullman's bestselling Dark Materials trilogy, came in on the ALA list behind Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell's And Tango Makes Three, Robert Cormier's The Chocolate War and Kevin Henkes' Olive's Ocean.

Northern Lights was challenged over its "religious viewpoint", the ALA said.

Pullman said that banning a book on religious grounds was "the worst reason of the lot".

"Religion grants its adherents malign, intoxicating and morally corrosive sensations. Destroying intellectual freedom is always evil, but only religion makes doing evil feel quite so good," he said.

This week marks the ALA's 27th annual Banned Books Week, which sees libraries and bookshops across the US running events intended to raise awareness of book censorship.



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