It is believed that, “books give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything else”. On one hand they can liberate your existence and on the other hand they can enlighten your beliefs. Development of alphabets and then summarizing ideas in the form of books could be the human civilization’s greatest achievement. Over the centuries, whilst we had had books that are revered and treasured in every part of the world, we had also witnessed books that were considered controversial and hence banned or criticized for one reason or another.

We take a look back and list here 19 books, from all over the world, that received the wrath of critics’ time and again and were banned, temporarily or permanently or were never published in some countries:

1.Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure

Source : Wikipedia

Author:John Cleland

Genre: Erotic Novel

When: 1748

Why: First printed in 1748, this book has been banned, confiscated, and smuggled in countries around the world on and off for over a quarter of a century. The Book tells the story of a country girl forced into prostitution in eighteenth-century London. Cleland wrote the book while finishing a sentence in debtors’ prison only to be re-arrested for obscenity after the book’s release.

Where: Banned in the United States till 1966.

2.The Communist Manifesto

Source : Wikipedia

Author: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

Genre: Manifesto

When: 1848

Why:Thispolitical pamphlet by the German philosophers is considered one of the world’s most influential political manuscripts and is partly responsible for the rise of communism throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The Communist Manifesto summarizes Marx and Engels’ theories about the nature of society and politics and criticizes capitalism and proposes communism as an effective alternative.

3. Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Source : Wikipedia

Author: Harriet Beecher Stowe

Genre: Novel

When: 1852

Why: This novel highlights the cruelty against African-American slaves and ignited a firestorm of protest from defenders of slavery (who created a number of books in response to the novel) while the book elicited praise from abolitionists.

Where: Banned in the Confederate States during the Civil War because of its anti-slavery content. In 1852, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was banned in Russia under the reign of Nicholas I because of the idea of equality it presented, and for its “undermining religious ideals”.

4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Source : Wikipedia

Author:Lewis Carroll

Genre: Children Fiction

When: 1865

Why:For its portrayal of anthropomorphized animals acting on the same level of complexity as human beings.

Where: Banned in the province of Hunan, China, beginning in 1931.

5. Ulysses

Source : Wikipedia

Author: James Joyce

Genre: Modernist Novel

When: 1922

Why: Ulysses chronicles the peripatetic appointments and encounters of Leopold Bloom in Dublin in the course of an ordinary day, 16 June 1904. Its stream of consciousness-style content is considered vulgar and overly graphic as it depicts several vivid descriptions of bodily functions including.

Where: Banned in Ireland and Britain.

6. Mein Kampf

Source : Wikipedia

Author:Adolf Hitler

Genre: Political Manifesto

When: 1925

Why: For idealizing the political notions of Adolf Hitler – but obvious.

Where: Banned in some European nations and the Russian Federation as extremist. In Germany, the copyright of the book is claimed by the Free State ofBavaria and Bavarian authorities try to prevent any reprinting. It is legal to own or distribute existing copies.In Austria, the Verbotsgesetz 1947 prohibits the printing of the book. It is illegal to ownor distribute existing copies.

7. Rangila Rasul or Rangeela Rasool

Source : Pixabay

Author:An Arya Samaji named Pandit M. A. Chamupati or Krishan Prashaad Prataab in 1927, whose name however was never revealed by the publisher.

Genre: Religious

When: 1927

Why: Rangila Rasul had a surface appearance of a lyrical and laudatory work on Muhammad and his teachingsand described the marital and sex life of the Muhammad.

Where: Currently banned in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh

8. Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Source : Wikipedia

Author: D. H. Lawrence

Genre: Novel

When: 1928

Why: For containing obscene materials and was the subject of numerous obscenity trials in the United Kingdom, United States and other countries till the 1960s.

Where: Banned in United Kingdom, United States and Australia.

9. Lolita

Source : Wikipedia

Author: Vladimir Nabokov

Genre: Novel

When: 1955

Why: Told from the first-person perspective of a man, a 37-to-38-year-old literature professor called Humbert Humbert, the contents of the books are controversial for describing pedophilia in a convincing manner.

Where: France, England, Argentina, and New Zealand

10. Things Fall Apart

Source : Wikipedia

Author: Chinua Achebe

Genre: Historical Fiction

When: 1958

Why: This book set in the Pre-colonial Nigeria somewhere in 1890’s highlights the fight between colonialism and traditional societies and caused a stir for its context – particularly British Colonialism and Christian influence in Africa.

Where: Still banned in Malaysia.

11. Nine Hours to Rama

Source : Wikipedia

Author: Stanely Wolpert

Genre: Novel

When: 1962

Why: It exposes persons responsible for security lapses that led to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.

Where: Banned in India.

12. An Area of Darkness

Source : Wikipedia

Author: V. S. Naipaul

Genre: Travelogue

When: 1964

Why: The first book of Naipaul’s travelogue trilogy contained materials that were considered to portray India and its people in a negative light.


13. Spycatcher

Source : Wikipedia

Author: Peter Wright

Genre: Autobiography

When: 1985

Why: Was banned for revealing secrets. Peter Wright was a former MI5 intelligence officer and his book was banned even before it was even published in 1987.

Where:Banned in United Kingdom

14. The Satanic Verses

Source : Wikipedia

Author:Salman Rushdie

Genre: Novel

When: 1988

Why: The fourth novel of Salman Rushdie is criticized for alleged blasphemy against Islam and is condemned by some of the Muslim community who feel that the contents of the book are derogatory to Prophet Muhammad.

Where: Banned in Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iran, Kenya, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Senegal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Thailand.

15. American Psycho

Source : Wikipedia

Author: Bret Easton Ellis

Genre: Novel

When: 1991

Why: Extremely graphic descriptions of torture, murder, mutilation, cannibalism and more.

Where:Sale and purchase was banned in the Australian State of Queensland. Now available in public libraries and for sale to people 18 years and older. Sale restricted to persons at least 18 years old in the other Australian states.

16. Lajja

Source : Wikipedia

Author: Taslima Nasrin

Genre: Novel

When: 1993

Why: The Bangladeshi author’s book is based on the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1993 and is said to have been offensive to Muslims and insulting to Islam.

Where: Banned in India and Bangladesh.

17. The Polyester Prince: The Rise of Dhirubhai Ambani

Source : Google Images

Author: Hamish McDonald

Genre: Biography (Unauthorised)

When: 1998

Why: The book illustrates Ambani’s journey from school teacher’s son in Gujarat to a business tycoon. It documents Ambani’s influence on politics and some of the allegations made against him. Most publishers refused to put it out as the Ambanis claimed it was slanderous and threatened legal action.

Where: Banned in India.

18. 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy

Source : Amazon

Author: E L James

Genre: Novel

When: 2011 – 2012

Why:For containing ‘Sadistic’ material and for being a ‘threat to morality’.

Where: Banned in Malaysia from 2015 onwards.

19. Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India

Source : Wikipedia

Author:Joseph Lelyveld

Genre: Biography

When: 2011

Why:For suggesting that Mahatma Gandhi had a homosexual relationship.

Where:Banned in Gujarat, India.