Top 10 Banned Books of the 20th Century

It is a fact of common knowledge that every serious book ever published has passed through and attentive censorship. However, the history of literature provides numerous examples of sorrowful books’ failure against publishing houses and national authorities. Due to various reasons, religious, political or skeptic critics, many books were forbidden to publish in different countries. Regardless overwhelming liberty of speech noticed in the 20th century, some of the writers met severe reviews on their masterpieces; hence, their books contributed to the list of top 10 banned books of the 20th century.

10. Perks of Being Wallflower

One of the recent teenage movies, Perks of Being Wallflower, appears to be a screen adaptation of the same-named book by Stephen Chbosky. It was written in 1999 and soon after received negative assessments of the American Library Association. In particular, the novel mostly consists of the letters of Charlie, a main character, to his anonymous friend, in which he describes all the moral and sexual hardships he has faced. As it turned out, Charlie’s life is full of humiliations, sexual harassments and drugs’ issues. In addition, they are framed with suicidal thoughts. To protect and promote the book, Stephen Chbosky, alongside famous American actor John Malkovich, showed its storyline on wide screens in 2012.

Perks of Being Wallflower

9. Brave New World

Alike accusations were addressed to Aldous Huxley and his novel Brave New World. The famous dystopian, written in 1932, was set in the midst of economic crisis. It vividly describes a nightmarish world of the future state, where genetic engineering is comprehended and widely mastered. Huxley was one of the first writers, who revealed an idea of the consumer society, with its methods of subconscious management, but unfortunately it was not one of the priorities of Irish authorities.

8. Things Fall Apart

A bright example of books’ political pursuit is Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, published in 1958. The main idea of the novel is criticism of British colonial policy and affairs that essentially was not approached in Malaysia, where it was immediately banned. The plot features nine settlements in Nigeria, united into a fantasy region and affected much by Englishmen and their culture. Though, Chinua Achebe was honored with Booker Prize in 2007.

7. The Grapes of Wrath

One of the pillars of modern American literature, John Steinbeck, has also met negative critics on his novel The Grapes of Wrath (1939) notwithstanding the Pulitzer Prize Award. In practice, its plot embraces the most devastating period of the American history, Great Depression, which has enabled all the social, moral and cultural hardships people could imagine. Author’s excessive veracity led to novel’s forbid in certain cities and even countries.

Top 10 Banned Books of the 20th century

6. Tropic of Cancer

Henry Miller found his novel Tropic of Cancer under seizure, as it maintains overwhelming sex scenes. The storyline covers a period of  1930s in French history and social livelihood and, by the way, it is written on behalf of the author. Thereby Tropic of Cancer appears to be an autobiographical novel.

5. Lolita

One of the famous novels’ forbids related to excessive sexual tension is Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Unethical nature of the relationship between main characters, a mature man and a teenage girl, was judged negatively everywhere besides the US, where it was successful published and adapted into a movie.

4. Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade

One more autobiography was banned, though it was in the USA. It is associated with Kurt Vonnegut’s book Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade published in 1969. The main reason is in writer’s detailed description of a soldier’s experience, captured after bombing of Dresden, and all the horrors of the war.

3. The Satanic Verses

As it was mentioned, religion might be also a reason to ban books. This happened to Salman Rushdie and his The Satanic Verses, which were widely criticized in the Islamic countries. The poems were written in the style of magic realism, and therefore were considered as blasphemy on Muslim religion.

2. The American Psycho

Conemporary American writer Bret Easton managed to receive a negative review and even wide criticism of The American Psycho on the turn of the 21st century. Religious accusations and pursuit of overwhelming sexual scenes were replaced with a ban on serial killers. Precisely, The American Psycho strikes readers with details of a life of a main hero, who is a serial cold-bloodied murderer at night, and at the same time a successful businessman during the day. The psychological effect of this book is really exciting.

1. Metamorphosis

Franz Kafka was one of the most popular European novelists, especially on the eve of the World War I. However, many of his masterworks were banned, including Metamorphosis, due to political reasons. In practice, Franz Kafka was published neither in Nazi Germany nor on Soviet lands. Being native to Czechoslovakia, he continued to write only in German language in contrast to national publishing policy.

About the author: Maria Kruk, an author for

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