Hong Kong Deems Haruki Murakami’s New Novel ‘Indecent’

Haruki Murakami is one of Japan’s most celebrated authors and has given us critically acclaimed novels such as Norwegian Wood, Kafka on the Shore, and IQ84. Despite his success, Murakami’s new book, Killing Commendatore, has run afoul of censors in Hong Kong where it was deemed ‘indecent’ by a tribunal and has been removed from displays at a book shops and fairs.

As the South China Morning Post reports, the Hong Kong’s Obscene Articles Tribunal announced last week that the Chinese translation of Kishidancho Goroshi (Killing Commendatore) has now been classified as “Class II – indecent materials.”The book can still be sold in bookshops, but it will only be sold to those over the age of 18 and the cover will be hidden with a notice to warn potential buyers about its content. The book has also been been removed from stands at the Hong Kong book fair, a spokesperson stated the novel has been removed proactively following the ruling.



Killing Commendatore has proven to be yet another hit for Murakami. It was published in Japan last year and plenty of readers queued up at midnight openings to get their hands on it. The book is set to be published this Autumn on October 9 in the UK and US and is “an epic tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art – as well as a loving homage to The Great Gatsby – and a stunning work of imagination from one of our greatest writers,” according to its British publisher Harvill Secker.

China Times Publishing, the Taiwanese company which has rights to publish Murakami’s novel, has also reported that its been told not to display the book at the Hong Kong book fair. It was warned that failure to remove the book could lead to the booths being shut down.

While the censorship stands for now, it has been criticized by many. The president of PEN Hong Kong, spoke with The Guardian, saying that “for a place that holds itself out as Asia’s world city, the Hong Kong authorities’ views toward sexuality and the literary treatment of it are archaic.”

“They are also arbitrary: who is to say Mr Murakami’s depiction of sex in Killing Commendatore is any more indecent than that in a James Joyce or Henry Miller novel? And yet the former is banned from a literary event and the latter is taught in school as classics,” he said.

A petition has also been created which calls for the censorship to be removed and has been signed by nearly 2,000 people. The petition states that the censorship “makes Hong Kong the most conservative area in the Sinosphere, and will bring shame to the people of Hong Kong.”

In a similar vein, children’s books with LGBT themes have been taken from libraries in Hong Kong following duress from an anti-gay-rights group. For instance, And Tango Makes Three, an award-winning picture book for children that features two male penguins raising a chick together has been removed from the public and is now only available by request.

“Any citizen, gay or straight, should be equally outraged by such blatant censorship. We hope that civil society in Hong Kong will continue to stay vigilant to ensure that these isolated incidents don’t turn into a troubling pattern and eventually to a new normal,” said Ng.

In response to the censorship, PEN International has sent a report to the Human Rights Council. Rachael Jolley, editor of Index on Censorship, stated that recent censorship “appear to be part of a worrying trend in China to be more restrictive about how sex is portrayed in books, and what is ‘allowed.’

“Book fairs are the last places we expect to see censorship, so it is worrying that we are seeing the new Murakami novel removed from the Hong Kong book fair’s booths. Book fairs are where people go to see a range of writing and we would call on the directors to make sure that they resist bids to censor which pieces of writing are on show,” she said.

Sarah Govett‘s The Territory Optioned for Television

By | Adaptations, News | No Comments
I was lucky enough to meet Sarah Govett at a book signing event last year and she is the loveliest lady. Govett is the author of The Territory, a YA trilogy that looks at a post-apocalyptic world after global warming and rising sea levels.

The fantasy thriller is set in the UK where dry land is scarce and teenagers must pass a exam or be sent to the disease-ridden wetlands, but the system is skewed to favour children from wealthy families who can afford information nodes, impregnated into the backs of their necks.
Read More

Charlie Hebdo Survivor Philippe Lancon wins Respected Paris Book Prize

By | Literary Awards, News | No Comments
When two militant gunmen burst into the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo magazine in 2015 it shook the entire world, and journalists and writers especially felt the price the journalists had paid for free speech.

Now three years later, journalist Philippe Lancon who was injured in the deadly attacks has won the Femina Prize, a prestigious award for his book, Le Lambeau, an account of the attack and how it has affected Lancon’s life.

Read More

Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ is Barnes and Nobles’ Fastest-Selling Book of 2018

By | Bookshops, News | No Comments
Released a week ago today, Michelle Obama’s latest book Becoming has become Barnes and Nobles’ fastest-selling book in terms of first week sales. The book has enjoyed the most successful first-week launch of an adult book in over three years and has also surpassed other high profile releases such as Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury and Bob Woodward’s Fear.

As Good Reader reports, the book’s publisher, Penguin Random House, has announced that Becoming sold over 725,000 copies on its first day of release, meaning it’s the publisher’s highest single-day sales of any book this year.
Read More

18th Century Teen’s Schoolbook Doodles Discovered

By | News, Reading Habits | No Comments
Doodles, scribbles, and mini works of fine art got many of us through our teen years at school- I personally preferred drawing spiderwebs in the corners of every page- and it seems 18th century teens were not much different!

Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) discovered a young man’s doodles in his own mathematics workbook, and it gives us a fascinating insight into the mind of this erudite and creative teen. As well as laying out his mathematical formulae with precision and clarity, Richard Beale showed us his family dog, street scenes, elegant ships, and… A chicken in trousers.

Let MERL take you on a journey through time into the mind of Richard Beale- honest farm-boy, good mathematician, and excellent doodler.

Read More

The Literary and Film World Pay Tribute to William Goldman

By | Authors, News | No Comments
This week the tragic news of William Goldman’s death reached us, author of the Princess Bride among many other screenplays, adaptations, and novels. We paid tribute to Goldman in this piece and now the literary world has spoken out about the writer’s death.

Across social media well known names spoke out about Goldman, their relationship with him and the ways in which he touched their lives.
Read More

Books are My Bag Readers Awards 2018

By | Literary Awards, News | No Comments
The Books are My Bag Readers Awards are back for a third year, offering their own unique award system. The Awards really are one of a kind, the only book awards curated by bookshops and voted for by booklovers.

This year the award has added a new category for poetry, alongside the seven existing categories. Books are My Bag asked you to vote and you did so in your thousands and the winners are now in for the Books are My Bag Readers Awards, sponsored by National Book Tokens.
Read More



Leave a Reply