This is a democratic world. People have the freedom of expression. This allows writers to play around with words and topics. However, there are people who have taken things a bit too far. This lands them in trouble. The books become controversial resulting in filing of cases in courts. It happens that many Governments ban the circulation of such books in their countries.
What are the topics that can cause controversies? Some of the main topics are religion, sex, and politics. There can be other topics that can hurt the feelings of a section of society. However, the topics mentioned above concerns a larger section of society. Hence, the outrage is more.
The writer may be telling the truth in a brutally honest manner. However, who likes to listen to the truth. This results in a controversy. Let us look at the top 10 most controversial books of all time.
10. Da Vinci Code: Dan Brown
We open the account with Da Vinci Code at No. 10. This book questions the origin of Christianity and some of its beliefs. One can consider this book as a work of fiction. Certain characters set out to reveal some hidden truths. The Catholic Church had concealed them for centuries. These truths include questioning the divinity and celibacy of Jesus Christ. It speaks of Christ begetting a daughter and traces her lineage to the present times. This book questions the tenets of Christianity thereby incurring the wrath of the Roman Catholic Church. This is a huge controversy in its own right. There is a film by the same name as well.
9. Slaughter House Five: Kurt Vonnegut
We have Slaughter House Five at No. 9 in this list. This books deals with the travails of an American Prisoner of War, Billy Pilgrim, in the German jails at Dresden. Billy and the other POWs are lodged in a slaughter house numbered 5. The book has graphic accounts of the Dresden bombings and how the prisoners along with their guards hid in the cellars to save themselves. The book continues with Billy Pilgrim having visions of his past as well as his future including his death. The US Government banned this book because it did not wish to expose its children to such chilling graphics.
8. And Tango Makes Three: Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell
The No. 8 spot in this list goes to the controversial book, “And Tango Makes Three.” The topic is homosexuality, a controversial topic on its own. What make the book court controversy are the main characters of the book. The main protagonists are two male penguins. However, the story is based on a true incident at the Central Park Zoo, New York. Two male penguins hatched an egg given to them by another heterosexual pair. They raise the offspring successfully. This book presents the subject of homosexuality in a different light. There was huge outrage when the book was released in 2005 with parents coming out vehemently against the book stating that it corrupted the minds of children.
7. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male: Alfred Kinsey
Actually it should be two books at No. 7. They are ‘Sexual Behavior in the Human Male’ and ‘Sexual Behavior in the Human Female’. Written in 1948 and 1953, the books caused immediate uproar as they depicted the sexual preferences and acts in great detail. The world was just not ready to accept such explicit description of sexual content at that time. The author did not restrict his research to interviews alone. His research included actual sexual activity with most of his subjects being prostitutes, gays, and prisoners. There was a racial angle to it as well because he did not include any black people in his research.
6. The Catcher in the Rye: J D Salinger
The Cather in the Rye was one of the best novels ever written. However, this novel had its share of criticism and controversy because of its themes such as anger, sexuality, and rebellion among others. The teenage population was the most affected ones because of the bold views expressed in the novel. The use of profanity, anti-white sentiments, and sexuality angered the purists no end. There was explicit description of violence in this book. The main protagonist, Holden Caulfield attained iconic status because of this controversial novel.
5. Mein Kampf: Adolf Hitler
Written by the most controversial personality in the world, Adolf Hitler, this autobiography, Mein Kampf, is at No 5 in this list. Hitler, no stranger to controversies, started writing his autobiographical memoirs in 1923 when he was in jail. His first volume came out in 1925. Realizing that one volume was not enough, he started his work on the 2nd one and released it in 1926. This novel contains his ideologies. Hence, there is no shortage of any controversial content at any stage. His racial comments and arguments are a controversy every time. This book is no different.
4. The Satanic Verses: Salman Rushdie
Religion is one topic you have to be extremely careful to tread. Dan Brown experienced the same when he wrote Da Vinci Code. Salman Rushdie tasted a bitter dose of the medicine with his novel, The Satanic Verses. This time, it involved the Islamic religion. Islamists are famous for their fanaticism. Hence, Rushdie had to face the wrath of the Muslims all over the world. They contended that he held the Prophet and the Quran in contempt. Rushdie’s attempts to explain his stand did not find water with the Islamists. The ruler of Iran issued a ‘Fatwa’ against him. Great Britain granted him asylum. Rushdie escaped death but many other people associated with the book were not so fortunate. This book is the No. 4 in this list.
3. The Anarchist Cookbook: William Powell
When you have a novel that teaches you how to assemble various kinds of ammunition at your homes, it is inviting trouble. In addition, the novel, The Anarchist Cookbook talks about tapping the phones of others and sneaking into their conversations. The main reason for writing this book is that the author was sent to fight in the Vietnam War before he had turned 20. This book led a horde of youngsters to manufacture bombs in their homes. The FBI had to intervene to investigate because they invariably found a copy of this book in the possession of every arrested person in these cases. They argued that this book promoted terrorism and hence deserved to be banned.
2. American Psycho: Bret Easton Ellis
The book at No. 2, American Psycho, has all the qualities that a controversial book should have. It has explicit mention of violence, sex, racism, misogyny, and hatred towards humans. The controversy was such that the original published developed cold feet at the time of the release of the book. Subsequently, they released the book. The lead character in the book, Patrick Bateman narrates his experience in the first person. The character assumes darker shades as the story deepens. The contents are so explicit that many countries such as Australia and New Zealand have banned the sale of this book to people below 18 years of age.
1. Lolita: Vladimir Nabokov
The title looks cute and harmless. However, the contents are quite the opposite. Taking 5 years to complete, the novel faced its first hurdle at the time of its publication. After a struggle of 2 years, Vladimir got it published but there was an immediate outcry because of the explicit sexual content. The book goes into great details of the sexual relationships between a middle-aged man and a young pre-teen girl. The initial chapters are enough to raise the erotic frame of mind but the effect fades out subsequently. For the sheer audacity of description of the story and the controversy it created, this book, Lolita is the most controversial book ever.
This list includes books on volatile topics such as religion, sexuality, and violence. There have been umpteen books on these topics that have caused great uproar. The Bible itself is one such big controversy. We have the famous novel, ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ by Mark Twain as another work of great controversy. The list can be endless. However, no one can deny that the books listed in this article are highly controversial.