Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Latest Book Banned In Iran

Posted on November 16, 2007

Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez's latest book has been banned in Iran after the censors found out that the name of the book had been changed to make it sound less racy. The original book title was Memories of My Melancholy Whores. In Farsi it is called Memories of My Melancholy Sweethearts, which certainly has a more innocent sound to it.

The first edition of 5,000 had sold out before the authorities realised. The novel tells the story of a man who wants to mark his 90th birthday by sleeping with a 14-year-old virgin in a brothel and ends up falling in love. Iran's culture ministry said a "bureaucratic error" had led to permission being granted for the book's publication, the Fars news agency reported. The official responsible had been sacked, Fars said.

The book sold out within three weeks of arriving in Iranian bookshops. But the book angered religious conservatives who drew the authorities' attention to its original title and content. The ministry of culture and Islamic guidance, which must approve all publications in Iran, then refused to issue a permit to allow the book to be reprinted. Iran has tightened censorship of books since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005.

Censorship is not funny at all, but we have to laugh at the publisher's cleverness in changing the title to get it into Iranian bookstores. Alas, the jig is up as the morality police (there really is such a thing in Iran, sadly) are onto the publisher's tricks.

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