Rhonwyn Newson

Weekend editor of the Herald Online and writer of The Herald List

Ten of the most controversial books ever

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Dirty Politics by Nicky Hager has caused quite a controversy. The left and right are laying complaints, hacking and breaches are being alleged and that's before any of the books' contents has been explored.

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Throughout history, books have always managed to rile and outrage. Here are 10 of the most controversial books of all time:

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (1915)

In this book, a travelling salesman turns into a giant bug. While the salesman was once a treasured member of his family, he becomes estranged to the point where he it forgotten.

The controversy of this book is because Kafka refused to write in Czech, he only wrote in German.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)

This parody of HG Wells' utopian novel, Men Like Gods, also bears similarity to the also controversial 1984 by George Orwell. A divided society and the loss of identity were the core themes.

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller (1934)

This book was written in the first person and details the sexual relationships of an American expat living in France in the 1930s.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)

Obsessed with young women, Humbert Humbert marries 12 year-old Dolores Haze's mother, Charlotte, as a cover for his affections for her. The story follows Humbert and Dolore's relationship.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (1958)

This is the story of Okonkwo, a wrestling champion of a village in Nigeria. The book was controversial because it explores the themes of British colonialism and Christian missionary work.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (1969)

This beautifully written autobiographical account by Maya Angelou became highly controversial because it contained explicit details of rape, violence and sex. It also explored homosexual and premarital themes. As a result, the book was removed from many schools.

The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell (1971)

Written during the Vietnam War, Powell's book explains how to build bombs and intercept telecommunications. The book remains popular, despite Powell himself attempting to remove it from circulation following a religious conversion.

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden (1982)

Back in 1982, this novel about two girls from differing socio-economic backgrounds who begin a friendship because they share the same interests and goals, was deemed far too risqué.

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (1988)

Controversy was so great around this magic realism story, it was banned in India and burnt in the UK. In 1989, a fatwa was issued for Rushdie to be killed on sight - prompting the author to go into hiding for a decade.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (1991)

This extremely graphic and violent book was originally meant to be published by Simon & Schuster who backed out. Vintage released the book and Ellis received death threats and hate mail.

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