Earlier this year, the government of Kuwait officially acknowledged that it had banned over 4,300 books across the country over the past four years. In a form of protest, a Kuwaiti graphic designer and artist Mohammad Sharaf created the Cemetery of Banned Books on a plot of land near the location of Kuwait’s Annual Book Fair.
Sharaf created over 200 headstones, each bearing the name of a particular book that has been banned. Titles include Nahj al-Balagha, The Divine Comedy, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and One Hundred Years of Solitude, to name but a few. Children’s books have also been banned, including one that’s based upon the Disney adaptation of The Little Mermaid. Encyclopedias. as well as religious and political texts are also banned. The New York Times reports that a group of six Arabic and six English readers who work under the Ministry of Information oversee the bans.
Officials were not amused by the art installation and the piece stood for only four hours before it was taken down by Kuwaiti authorities. Sharaf has not yet faced legal action, but in an interview with Hyperallergic, he said: “There is a chance that I might face legal repercussions because I did not take permission to use the land to put my installation.” He went on to explain that the project is in no way affiliated with the Book Fair and was self-funded.
Sharaf describes the piece as a “symbolic piece of protest and public art intervention.” He stated that he received a lot of support on social media, but also some criticism from those who don’t believe he should be championing books that are sexual or promote secular or atheist ideals.
“The motivation [for the Cemetary] is simply to protest and fight the arbitrary ban of books in Kuwait. As a person who is an activist in the field in art and design, I’ve always thought that activism can be done in many forms,” he said. “Typical activism like riots, panel discussions, and lectures are good, but they are limited in their reach.” The front of the Book Cemetery features a librarians desk, a way of signalling that these books have been ‘checked out’ of Kuwait.
The idea was created by book personalisation company In The Book who have redesigned each stop with a famous literary name such as Graham Greene, Zadie Smith, or Arthur Conan Doyle. The map covers most of zones 1 and 2 with some prolific writers featuring multiple times- Charles Dickens is represented in 7 areas.
Tom Matthews, spokesperson for In The Book said:
“The map aims to give a comprehensive geographical guide to London’s diverse literary history. We’re all familiar with Charles Dickens, Martin Amis and Zadie Smith, but it’s also titles such as Lawless and the Devil of Euston Square and Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows that help colour areas of the city in their own unique way.”
Last week Women’s Prize For Fiction announced they were launching a brand new podcast, “championing the very best writing by women from around the world”, so I grabbed my headphones, hit the subscribe button and had a listen.
27-year-old Ashley Jost from Missouri, USA, picked up the copy of Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis while on a shopping trip in Target. Ashley grabbed a copy of the self-help book after remembering a reading challenge she signed up for with her friends.
Ashley started reading as soon as she got home and didn’t discover the surprise until she was interrupted:
“My dog started barking so I got up from reading and threw the book down on the ottoman when suddenly a five dollar note fell out. I knew it wasn’t mine so I thumbed through the pages and saw a pink post-it stuck to one.”
JK Rowling’s incredible legacy of the Harry Potter universe has been adopted by people all over the world- many of whom have had their Hogwarts school house assigned by Pottermore.
Each fan/student is assigned a house that fits their personality: Slytherin for the cunning and ambitious, Gryffindor for brave and athletic, Hufflepuff for the loyal and humble, and Ravenclaw for the smart and creative.
Shoe company, Vans, have recently revealed the first look at their collaboration with the world of Harry Potter with each shoe design based on each Hogwarts house aesthetic.
Check out the new designs below!
David MacKay, the first ever Scottish space pilot, received the Ladybird book as a child for good attendance at Sunday School. Growing up in the historic Highland county of Sutherland, MacKay’s dreams of flying were first inspired by the local Royal Naval Air Station (now RAF Lossiemouth). Watching the planes flying low over his village of Helmsdale, MacKay would dream of flying and travelling the world. The Apollo missions happening around the same time, MacKay’s daydreaming and wanderlust soon took a look skywards; once he was handed the Exploring Space book, MacKay knew what he wanted to do.
The Scottish spaceman’s high-flying career started when studying aeronautical engineering at the University of Glasgow in 1977. He spent 16 years as a military pilot and after the RAF he flew passenger crafts before joining Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, and joined the commercial space race.