Haruki Murakami’s 2017 novel Killing Commendatore has been ruled to be “indecent” and removed from display at a book fair by Hong Kong censors.
Hong Kong’s Obscene Articles Tribunal recently announced that the Mandarin edition of respected Japanese author Murakami’s Killing Commendatore had been temporarily classified as “Class II: indecent materials.” This means that it can only be sold in bookshops if it has a cover wrapped with a notice warning about its contents, with access restricted to underage people. The book has also been removed from booths at the Hong Kong book fair.
Image via Twitter/GTL
In Killing Commendatore, Murakami tells a story about a thirty-six-year-old artist who embarks on his journey finding out why his wife suddenly confessed her affair and asked for divorce. The novel is weaved with abundant metaphors and historical pieces like Nanking Massacre. In one hour after it was released, the novel had reached the top seller of Amazon in 2017.
Needless to say, this unexpected sentence sparked a public backlash and raises doubts about the tribunal’s internal composition. Many critics suspected that one of the reasons for this ruling is Murakami’s descriptions of sex. Yet, people don’t buy that: According to the Guardian, Jason Y Ng, president of PEN Hong Kong, responds to this ruling that:
They are also arbitrary: who is to say Mr. Murakami’s depiction of sex in Killing Commendatore is any more indecent than that in a James Joyce or Henry Miller novel? And yet the former is banned from a literary event and the latter is taught in school as classics.
There’s a petition signed by almost 2,000 people calling for a reversal of the tribunal’s decision, stating that the “indecent” ruling “makes Hong Kong the most conservative area in the Sino-sphere, and will bring shame to the people of Hong Kong.”
No matter what reasons behind this ruling, I believe that the freedom of thoughts and words is still the broad consensus that we should fight for. Let’s keep ourselves in the loop and see how the story will develop.
Featured Image via Good e-reader