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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007 2:32 pm
Tintin in the United States
Posted by: Keir Graff

From the Tintin desk: Borders stores in the U.S. will also move Tintin in the Congo to the graphic novels section. From Publishers Weekly (“Borders Shelves Kids’ Tintin Title in Adult Section, by Karen Holt”):

Borders in the U.S. released a statement about the book after PW raised the issue  last week. Spokesperson Ann Binkley said the retailer carries some titles from the Tintin series in its children’s sections. She added that the Borders is, “committed to acting responsibly as a retailer and with sensitivity to all of the communities we serve.  Therefore, with respect to the specific title Tintin in the Congo, which could be considered offensive by some of our customers, we have decided to place this title in a section of our store intended primarily for adults – the Graphic Novels section. We believe adults have the capacity to evaluate this work within historical context and make their own decision whether to read it or not.  Other "Tintin" titles will remain in the children’s section.” 

Meanwhile Washington DC’s Politics & Prose bookstore says they decided a couple of years ago not to carry it at all:

Meanwhile Dara La Porte, manager of the children’s department of Politics & Prose in Washington DC, decided after seeing a U.K.-published edition of the book  in 2005 not to sell it because of the racist content. “We got it in back a year and a half ago and returned it. We don’t carry it. If Little, Brown has changed it in some way we might consider carrying it,” she said. 

It’s hard to fault an individual bookseller for following her conscience. But the suggestion that the book should be rewritten for modern tastes raises a thorny point: does altering an offensive book to make it palatable to modern sensibilities represent progress? Or is it creepy and Orwellian? Even when the book itself is creepy, I’d have to vote for the latter. We should respond to the books as they were written, not make them respond to us.


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