A North Carolina county has banned Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison - a classic novel of black experience - from school libraries.
Randolph County Board of Education voted to remove all copies from libraries. They did so despite recommendations from schools and the school district to allow it to remain.
Previously Invisible Man had not only been in school libraries, but had also been on a list of three books that juniors were asked to choose for summer reading. The novel remains on the state Department of Public Instruction's suggested reading list for high schoolers, according to the Asheboro Courier-Tribune.
The ban was enacted at the request of a parent, who wrote a 12-page complaint directed at the "filth" she perceived in Ellison's book: "This novel is not so innocent; instead, this book is filthier, too much for teenagers. You must respect all religions and point of views when it comes to the parents and what they feel is age appropriate for their young children to read."
Her complaint hasn't been published, so it's not known what parts of the novel she thought were "filthy." The only section of Invisible Man that focuses on a sexual topic, however, involves a family the protagonist encounters in which the father sexually abused his daughter.
If the Randolph County Board of Education hopes to ban incest or intra-familial sexual abuse from high school libraries, it might want to rule out these other classic books:
Sophocles' Oedipus trilogy (mother-son incest), Shakespeare's Pericles (father-daughter), F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night (father-daughter), Alice Walker's The Color Purple (father-daughter), Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders (mother-son), One Hundred Years of Solitude (nephew and aunt), The Cider House Rules (father-daughter), and Flowers in the Attic (brother-sister).
Ellison himself called Invisible Man an "attempt to return to the mood of personal moral responsibility for democracy which typified the best of our nineteenth-century fiction."
Via education expert Diane Ravitch's blog.