Robot 6

Protests, brisk sales follow schools’ removal of ‘Persepolis’

The torture scene in question

The torture scene in question

The controversial removal of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis last week from seventh-grade classrooms of Chicago Public Schools had at least one positive side effect: healthy sales of the 13-year-old graphic novel at local bookstores.

DNAinfo reports several area booksellers sold out of the memoir over the weekend following a directive by CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett telling schools to stop teaching it as part of the seventh-grade curriculum “due to the powerful images of torture in the book.” The school system is also reviewing whether Persepolis, which chronicles Satrapi’s childhood in Iran during the Islamic revolution, should be taught to grades eight through 10.

The initial order, reportedly sent by district staff without administration approval, called for a system-wide ban, with removal beginning Wednesday afternoon at Lane Tech College Prep, sparking a protest Friday by teachers, parents and students. The National Coalition for Censorship also sent a letter to the district, urging the return of the graphic novel to classrooms. According to Progress Illinois, hundreds of students at Lane Tech also participated in a sit-in Monday morning, while those at Social Justice High School organized a read-in.

According to DNAinfo, by Monday no copies of Persepolis were available at The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square, Quimby’s in Wicker Park or Women & Children First in Andersonville.

“Whenever something gets banned, we kind of like to push it more,” said John Khosropour, an employee at Unabridged Bookstore in Lakeview.

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I’m reminded of something Stephen King said when addressing a group of students (I’m paraphrasing, I don’t have it to hand) to the effect that if there’s a book that your teachers are telling you not to read, then rush out and get a copy, because it’s exactly what you should read.

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