Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 dealt with a society that saw fit to burn any book they found — an extreme take, but a potent one all the same. Hopefully the real world will never reach that point, but even mild, isolated incidents are enough to make anyone wary. So, while New Zealand has been lucky enough to go without for decades, apparently one book has proven too much to bear.
Ted Dawe’s Into the River is the one under fire; following complaints from the lobbyist group Family First, the Film and Literature Board of Review agreed to ban the book from sale. Additionally, the book can no longer be obtained from libraries, schools, and shops, and even loaning a copy to a friend has been deemed illegal. Into the River may have taken heat for some of its explicit scenes, but in the eyes of some, that required a fine of up to $10,000.
The only saving grace right now is that Into the River is on an interim restriction; the final classification will take place sometime this month. Time will tell if the book returns to shelves safely, but one thing is clear: it may have courted controversy, but it’s a safe bet that Dawe’s creation only wanted to tell a good story.