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Book Bans and What to Read in May

The Book Review

05-05-2023 • 26 mins

Book-banning efforts remain one of the biggest stories in the publishing industry, and on this week’s episode of the podcast, our publishing reporters Alexandra Alter and Elizabeth Harris chat with the host Gilbert Cruz about the current state of such attempted bans and how they differ from similar efforts in the past.

“It is amazing to see both the upward trend in book bans but also the ways that the process of getting bans has evolved,” Alter says. “This has happened really quickly. … We’ve seen a lot of the book bans that have taken place in the last couple of years coming from either organized groups or from new legislation, which is a big shift from what librarians had tracked in the past, where they would see usually just a couple hundred attempts to ban books each year. And most of those were from concerned parents who had seen what their kid was reading in class or what their kid brought home from the public library. And usually those disputes were resolved quietly. Now you have people standing up in school board meetings reading explicit passages aloud.”

Also on this week’s episode, Joumana Khatib takes a look at some of the biggest new books to watch for this month.

Here are the books discussed in this week’s episode:

“Chain-Gang All-Stars,” by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

“King: A Life,” by Jonathan Eig

“Quietly Hostile,” by Samantha Irby

“Yellowface,” by R.F. Kuang

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