UK rights for Ted Dawe’s divisive award-winning YA novel, Into the River, are still available, Penguin Random House NZ has confirmed, after US and Canadian rights were sold to independent American publisher Polis Books.
Polis Books also acquired the rights to Dawe’s earlier novel Thunder Road directly from the publisher, with plans to publish both books in hardcover and e-book in June next year.
Into The River has sparked controversy in New Zealand, where it was recently banned for its "detailed descriptions of sex acts, coarse language and scenes of drug-taking" according to New Zealand’s Board of Film and Literature Review.
The book’s ban is the first in 22 years in New Zealand. The interim order, threatening hefty penalties of $3,000 (£1,370) and $10,000 (£4,570) respectively for individuals and companies distributing the work, has been roundly condemned by the International Publishers Association (IPA). Many organisations in New Zealand, such as the New Zealand Book Council, are also against it for the “dangerous precedent” it sets.
Some cities in New Zealand have been holding ‘silent public readings’ in opposition. The ban, requested Christian pressure group Family First, has also received criticism from such leading authors as 2013’s Man-Booker prize winner Eleanor Catton.
While the book is still available for purchase globally through online channels, Amazon has "put a block on it to all NZ users" since the interim order, according to Dawe in an interview with Stuff.co.nz.
It reports that the Board of Review is due to meet on Friday (2nd October) to discuss Into the River further; while the ban could be lifted, The Board is considering imposing permanent age restrictions.
This week, September 27th - 3rd October, is Banned Books Week in the US, the American Libraries Association's annual celebration of the right to read, which gives libraries and bookshops the opportunity to draw attention to issues of censorship by mounting displays and hosting events.
In the UK, dozens of 'banned book' lists have been circulating online in its honour using the hashtag #BannedBooksWeek on Twitter.