Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday Salon ~ banned books week


Last Monday, a school board in North Carolina banned the novel Invisible Man from its reading list.  Although one board member said at the meeting, "I didn’t find any literary value ... I’m for not allowing it to be available," Ralph Ellison won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1953 for this book.  In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Invisible Man nineteenth on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. Time magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.
Invisible Man ~ by Ralph Ellison, 1952

As a first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century.  The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood," and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be.
They banned the book just in time for Banned Books Week, which begins today.  Read about other books that have been banned or challenged on my Banned Books blog.  We'll be posting several times on that blog this week.

DIVERSITY means acceptance and respect

Joy Weese Moll, a librarian who writes about books, posted a list of the 45 books her Diversity Book Club has read, so far.  As I read down the list, I noted the ones I've read and found others I'd like to read.  My library has the one about Elizabeth and Hazel.

The names Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan Massery may not be well known, but the image of them from September 1957 surely is:  a black high school girl, dressed in white, walking stoically in front of Little Rock Central High School, and a white girl standing directly behind her, face twisted in hate, screaming racial epithets.  This famous photograph captures the full anguish of desegregation — in Little Rock and throughout the South — and an epic moment in the civil rights movement.

Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock ~ by David Margolick, 2011
In this gripping book, David Margolick tells the remarkable story of two separate lives unexpectedly braided together.  He explores how the haunting picture of Elizabeth and Hazel came to be taken, its significance in the wider world, and why, for the next half-century, neither woman has ever escaped from its long shadow.  He recounts Elizabeth's struggle to overcome the trauma of her hate-filled school experience, and Hazel's long efforts to atone for a fateful, horrible mistake.  The book follows the painful journey of the two as they progress from apology to forgiveness to reconciliation and, amazingly, to friendship.  This friendship foundered, then collapsed — perhaps inevitably — over the same fissures and misunderstandings that continue to permeate American race relations more than half a century after the unforgettable photograph at Little Rock.  And yet, as Margolick explains, a bond between Elizabeth and Hazel, silent but complex, endures.
The Sunday Salon's Facebook page has links to other blogs.


Joy said...

Invisible Man would be a good classic choice for the book club. Thanks for the link to our list. We had a good discussion after reading Elizabeth and Hazel, especially since one of our members grew up in Arkansas.

Joy's Book Blog

Helen's Book Blog said...

That book about Elizabeth and Hazel looks so good! I got choked up just reading the description. I'm adding it to my "must buy or get from the library" list

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Joy's book club has chosen books for the coming year, and she also shared others they considered and didn't select for right now. Here's the link: