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Four Dangerous Books

The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.

Oscar Wilde

Is there anything like the book that causes debate and outcry?

“Dangerous Books” refers to the fictional works of literature that startle and confront us. They are necessary, because without challenging books, literature would be dull.

So here’s to the books that divide us and spark a sense of danger.

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

Samajwadi Party workers protest against writer Salman Rushdie at Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India, on Jan. 24, 2008. (AP Photo/Rajesh Nirgude)


Nobody has the right to not be offended. That right doesn’t exist in any declaration I have ever read. 

If you are offended it is your problem, and frankly lots of things offend lots of people.

I can walk into a bookshop and point out a number of books that I find very unattractive in what they say. But it doesn’t occur to me to burn the bookshop down. If you don’t like a book, read another book. If you start reading a book and you decide you don’t like it, nobody is telling you to finish it. 

To read a 600-page novel and then say that it has deeply offended you: well, you have done a lot of work to be offended.

Salman Rushdie

Blasted for its depicted of Muhammad and banned in India for ‘hate speech’- The Satanic Verses is the controversial blend of magical realism and dream sequences that startle the reader. Since the novel’s inception, several death threats and assassination attempts have been made against author Salman Rushdie. Most alarmingly, a fatwa was declared against Rushdie by then supreme leader of Iran, Ruhollah Khomeini. The fatwa amount today is well over two million dollars.

Curious? Buy The Satanic Verses here

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Still from the 1997 adaption

No, I shall never regret Lolita. She was like the composition of a beautiful puzzle—its composition and its solution at the same time, since one is a mirror view of the other, depending on the way you look. Of course she completely eclipsed my other works—at least those I wrote in English: The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, Bend Sinister, my short stories, my book of recollections; but I cannot grudge her this. There is a queer, tender charm about that mythical nymphet.

Vladimir Nabokov

Yes, Lolita has been met with awe and appreciation- yet that does not stop it being misinterpreted or being derided as a child-abusing text. As the unreliable narrator Humbert Humbert develops an obsession with the 12 year old Dolores Haze, we discover the dark side of the human soul. Nothing is off limits for Nabokov: violence or sex. Whether it’s too much for the average reader is up for discussion.

Curious? Buy Lolita here

Beijing Coma by Ma Jian

Picture from history.com.

My mind flashed back to the Cultural Revolution, when a group of Red Guards pulled our neighbor, Granny Li, out of the opera company’s dormitory block and ordered the rest of us to bring out our thermos flasks. We then had to stand and watch as the Red Guards poured ten flasks of boiling water over Granny Li’s head.

Ma Jian

It takes alot of bravery to defy your government. Beijing Coma, which is banned in China aims to free the respective country from decades of tyranny and utter evil. As we follow the journey of Dai Wei, who recently woke up from a 10 year coma, we embark on new discoveries and reflect on our history and on our future. It was nominated for the Man Booker Prize in 2009, and demands to be read.

Curious? By Beijing Coma here

1984 by George Orwell

From recode.net

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever. 

1984

It’s a master of the dystopian genre for a damn good reason. 1984 is scary and dangerous because it is so damn realistic. From the overbearing ‘Big Brother’ to concepts such as ‘doublethink’ and ‘wrongthink’- Orwell is perceptive, and more importantly- brave. He never backs down from addressing the horrors of our world, and what the future contains. It’s a classic, and the greatest argument against totalitarianism and censorship ever made.

Curious? By 1984 here

What are your favourite ‘dangerous books’? Have you read any of the books above? Write in the comments your thoughts!

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