1 Oct 2015

Banned NZ book to hit US shelves

11:18 am on 1 October 2015

The first book to be banned in New Zealand in more than 20 years will soon be available to readers in the United States and Canada.

Into the River book cover

Photo: Ted Dawe/Penguin Random House

American publishing house Polis Books plan to publish Into the River, by Ted Dawe, in hardcover and as an e-book after founder Jason Pinter heard about the New Zealand ban.

"Any time a book is banned, all it serves to do is get the book more readers," he told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report.

"This is how I heard about the book, to begin with - I was actually on holiday with my family, and it made me want to read the book."

There are no plans to restrict the age of American readers, although Mr Pinter said Polis would recommend that readers be over 13, as parents tended to buy for their children and might want to be aware of its more sensitive themes.

"There are obviously some themes in the book that are for a slightly more mature audience," he said, but said that this was unlikely to impinge upon its success.

"People are generally open to books that deal with very difficult subject matter ... I think if anything people will embrace the realism in the book and [its] honesty."

Into the River won Book of the Year at the 2013 New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards, but was not been picked up for publication outside of New Zealand before its ban.

The book's author, Ted Dawe

Ted Dawe's banned book will be available to American and Canadian readers. Photo: Supplied

Mr Pinter said the ban meant that it was likely to reach a wider audience.

"This is the kind of book that deserves to have its voice amplified," he said.

"I don't think the book deserves to be banned. It's a fantastic book - I wouldn't be publishing it if [I didn't think that]."

After a challenge from Christian lobby group Family First, the Film and Literature Board of Review placed an interim restriction order on the book last month, meaning no-one in New Zealand could distribute or exhibit the novel. It was pulled off library and bookshop shelves.

There was outcry from school librarians, who said its content was no more controversial than many others in their stacks, and Attorney-General Chris Finlayson who feared that it would set an 'incredibly unhelpful precedent.'

A potential age restriction is being considered and the Film and Literature Board of Review meets tomorrow to discuss the matter.

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