Liz’s News of the Books

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Closing the Gates of Persepolis

When I started writing this column about literary controversies, I never dreamed that 9 months later, I’d find my hometown in the center of one. Not that I’m happy about this (other than not having to look in obscure places or manufacture a controversy out of thin air), but we haven’t had a good ‘ol fashioned book banning in a while. Lane Tech High School in Chicago broke that local streak when for whatever reason staff were directed to pull Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, out of school libraries. Or something that seemed very, very close to book banning. Something that took Persepolis out of a place where students who previously had access to it will no longer be able to do so.

Actually, I can’t figure out the order of events here, and neither can anyone else. Stories abound. Is it inaccurate to say the book was banned? Some people say it was just taken out of the 7th grade curriculum, others say high school libraries no longer have it either. Some say the ban is over, but I have it on good authority from the ALA (located in Chicago, what are the odds?) that the challenge is ongoing. I’ve heard the objection came from a pro-Iranian family in Englewood, but if you know anything about Chicago, that story smells worse than Bubbly Creek did on a hot day, especially since reports came out of Lane Tech…on the other side of town. I don’t want to add to the flurry of information about this event, especially since I suspect much of it is wrong. You do the investigative journalism of Googling yourself, and let’s just talk about what it all means.

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