J K Rowling, George Orwell, Vladimir Nabokov, E L James, Salman Rushdie or Arundhati Roy, There is a myriad list of controversial books and authors who landed in trouble or created disputes and banned, at the time of Book launch or after release, for different reason like writing down their unorthodox and free-spirited thoughts and stories which were far advanced of their time.
Here is a list of controversial books, you must add to your reading pile, which were declared scandalous or were banned either for talking about intimacy or portraying women as strong character or blasphemy and religious affiliation, but later they were embraced and announced as path-breaking literature.
1. The Harry Potter Series by J K Rowling
J K Rowling’s fantasy world of witchcraft and wizardry for children, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone – The first book of The Harry Potter Series, was landed in a long list of the controversial books and criticized by many religious groups and parents for inspiring kids to try occult and witchcraft, taking them deep in the unwanted and unrealistic fantasy world, but later it became one of the best seller fantasy fiction for kids.
J K Rowling published total 7 books in Harry Potter series and Warner brothers studio transformed the whole book-series into a fantastic movie series.
2. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
Nineteen Eighty-four, novel by the English author George Orwell published in 1949 as a warning against totalitarianism, is set in a dystopian world which is ruled by a totalitarian government in the year 1984. No one is free and safe in this world to live or even love according to their wish. The world is seeing the disasters of the WWII and is dominated by the Big Brother.
Orwell’s chilling dystopia made a deep impression on his contemporaries and upon subsequent readers, and his ideas have entered mainstream culture in a way achieved by very few books, let alone science fiction novels. Concepts such as newspeak, Big Brother (the all-powerful State), the Thought Police, and Room 101 (the novel’s torture chamber in the “Ministry of Love,” where prisoners are forced into submission by exposure to their worst nightmares) are instantly recognized and understood, often as bywords for modern social and political abuses.
This book was in the list of controversial books right from its publication and was banned for many years in few countries for its unnatural and intense theme.
3. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Lolita, A novel written by Russian-American author Vladimir Nabokov in 1955. The novel is notable for its controversial subject: the protagonist and unreliable narrator—a middle-aged literature professor called Humbert Humbert—is obsessed with the 12-year-old Dolores Haze, with whom he becomes sexually involved after he becomes her stepfather. “Lolita” is his private nickname for Dolores.
The novel was originally written in English and first published in Paris in 1955. Lolita quickly attained a classic status. The novel was adapted into a film by Stanley Kubrick in 1962, and again in 1997 by Adrian Lyne.
4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Jane Eyre was first published by Charlotte Bronte in 1847 under the masculine pseudonym “Currer Bell” and was received with great acclaim by some critics.
But when people came to know that the novel was actually written by a woman (Charlotte Brontë) it was criticized and created controversy.
5. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
This 1951 classic book was originally published for adult readers but the book is now popular among adolescent readers too as it touches upon a few teenage-issues like teenage angst, identity, loss, sense of belonging. The story’s protagonist Holden Caulfield is also considered as an icon of teenage rebellion. While The Catcher in the Rye was included in Time’s list of 100 best English-language novels written since 1923 in 2005, it has also been censored and challenged for the protagonist’s use of vulgar language, sexual references and questionable moral codes in the story. The American Library Association also features “The Catcher in the Rye” at number 10 in its list of “The 100 most frequently challenged books: 1990–1999”.
6. Candide by Voltaire
First published in French, Candide by Voltaire was considered as scandalous for its blasphemy as it spoke about the imperfections of life. This 1759 novella was banned after being secretly published.
Since then, the novel has inspired many authors for its insightful and witty depiction of human. So much so that Candide is considered as one of Voltaire’s magnum opus!
7. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
The Da Vinci Code is a fictional account where characters reveal an unspoken truth about Christ’s divinity and celibacy, which have been concealed by the Catholic Church for ages.
The book landed in a controversy for its fictional take on the Roman Catholic Church’s history and representation.
8. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
While author Alice Walker won Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1983 for her novel ‘The Color Purple’, the book is frequently targeted by censors for its explicit content and depiction of violence.
It also appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000–2009 at number 17. Set in Georgia in 1930s, The Color Purple’s story revolves around the lives of African-American women in the USA.
9. Ulysses by James Joyce
This modernist novel written by Irish author James Joyce is about the encounters of Leopold Bloom in Dublin, Ireland on a regular day (16 June, 1904). The novel also draws a parallel with Homer’s poem Odyssey.
While Ulysses has attracted much controversy since it was published – be it the obscenity trial in USA in 1921 or prolonged textual “Joyce Wars”- it is also considered as one of the greatest literary works in literature because of its detailed characterization and puns.
10. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
One of the most controversial books, Salman Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses” is also considered as one of his best-known works. It was first published in the year 1988 and is partly inspired from the life of Muhammad.
The book is still banned in India for allegedly being insulting to the Prophet.