For the first time in 22 years, New Zealand has banned a book


Into the River by New Zealand author Ted Dawe is an award-winning young adult novel about a teenage boy who moves from the sticks in New Zealand to a posh boarding school in Aukland. A kooky right-wing group called Family First freaked out about the sex, drugs, and language in the book and convinced New Zealand's Film and Literature Board to ban the sale and distribution of the novel. It's the first book they've banned in 22 years. The previous banned book was How to Build a Bazooka.

Taryn Hillin of Fusion posted parts from the novel that caused it to become forbidden to New Zealanders:

Back at boarding school Devon's friend Steph, another roommate, sneaks in some pot:

At last, Steph revealed the reason he had brought them there. He had a joint. "Where'd you get it?" Wingnut asked in a hushed whisper.

Devon and Tania embark on a sexual relationship — Devon's first:

Tania had Devon's jeans off much faster than he managed to clear the hooks on her bra. The urgency now bordered on panic. Then she had his cock in her wet hand. He gasped. The next thing was he felt a fluttering convulsion and came immediately, draping the wall of the bathroom with a ribbon of sperm.

Fairly normal stuff for a young adult novel, if you ask me. And nothing outside a typical teenager's life (at least in the US, and I presume NZ, though I've only spent a couple of months there). I didn't know that New Zealand had a department that decides what its citizens were allowed to read. I looked at a few online bookstores based in New Zealand and none of them carried Into the River. But they did carry Nicholson Baker's House of Holes, which is extremely raunchy. I guess that book is OK with the censorship board because its not aimed at teen readers?

Ted Dawe wrote an essay for The Guardian, titled Censorship is alive in New Zealand. I should know: my book was banned.

Previously: NZ bans award-winning YA novel after complaints from conservative Christian group