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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Atwood Boycotts Dubai

Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature in Dubai will now be down one world-class author after it banned a book containing a gay character. Atwood, author of The Handmaid's Tale, was to be amongst over 60 prestigious authors attending the event, but since the organisers decided to ban Geraldine Bedell's The Gulf Between Us. In a calm, to-the-point letter, she explained she cannot condone censorship and therefore had to decline involvement with the festival.

I'm with Atwood on this one. Of the 5.6m inhabitants of Dubai, the majority are foreigners, and in recent years EU and US citizens have been arrested for having LGBT relationships. This book was banned under the same anti-gay laws. Whether you're pro- or anti-gay rights, there's an argument against censorship here. A book shouldn't be banned just because you don't like what it says.

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  1. Well it is the Middle East. They have their laws, we have ours, and if they chose to go live over there, they should abide by them--just like we'd expect them not to chop people's hands off for thieving. I can only expect that a festival held in a country would adhere to that country's principals, so I think Atwood is being ridiculous. But then she usually is ridiculous.

  2. I think on the one hand I agree with what Atwood is doing, but on the other I think she needs to be more understanding of cultural differences.

    Not to mention, it's not like censorship doesn't happen everywhere else. How often do you see serious literary events involve pornographic novels? Never? Exactly. I think this has a lot to do with being mad because something in her range of interests has been censored. But I could be wrong...

  3. Possibly pornography isn't included in lit things because it's not literature ...

    And it should never be identified as such.

  4. Well, yes and no. It's literature, but it's not necessarily "good" literature. The intentions behind it, etc. But is it possible for there to be good pornographic literature?