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A Local Look at Banned Books Week

Within the past year, two novels have been challenged in the Brunswick County school system.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story reported that Brunswick County schools had attempted to ban two books. It has since been corrected to show that Pat Sykes, a Brunswick County Commissioner, attempted to ban The Color Purple and a concerned citizen challenged The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.  

It’s Banned Books Week. And with the recent challenges to books in Brunswick County schools, Clyde Edgerton, a UNCW Creative Writing professor, provides his perspective.  

Within the past year, two novels taught in Brunswick County schools have been challenged: Alice Walker's The Color Purple and Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Novelist Clyde Edgerton is no stranger to such censorship. His first two novels were challenged, and his third novel, The Floatplane Notebooks, was briefly banned from a Virginia high school. Edgerton has followed the local book debate:  

"I have heard of the coincidence that—I say coincidence with quotes around it—that so many of these books are by people of color. They are not by white men who manage to get by. You know, what’s kind of distressing to me is to hear people say, 'I haven’t read the book, but I don’t want anybody else to read it, I don’t want children to read it.'"

Edgerton, who has children of his own, says that parents should have a say in what their children read, but that it should be on a case-by-case basis, not a school-wide ban. When appealing to the Brunswick County Board of Education, challengers of both The Color Purple and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian cited vulgar language, violence, racism, and references to sexual behavior.