Resources and tips for the self-published author.

Banned Books That Were Originally Published As Indie

by Samantha Knoerzer •  September 30, 2016  •   Follow SamanthaKnoerze

Published in Publishing Tips  •  No comments


It’s banned book week, which means we are celebrating the freedom of writing and publishing.

Throughout history, many bestselling and award-winning books have been challenged for banning-even the Bible! What people don’t realize is that self-published books and books published by indie presses are more often than not challenged even more often. Indie books face daily challenges, and because they don’t have big publishers to back them when they are challenged it is much harder to get their sales out. Banning an indie book can ultimately destroy its chance at success. That’s why it’s important to always fight the banning of books.


In honor to celebrate the freedom of press, below we have a timeline of books originally published indie from around the world, which have been banned at some point throughout history.


  1. The Vatican Cellars by André Gide (1914, France)


A book about the adventures of a Byronesque hero who goes against tradition and values, even eventually to the point of committing murder for no reason. It has a great mix of a Shakespearian comedy, meets some poetic written passages.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED BY: Nouvelle Revue Française which was the pubslisher of his other books, or possibly originally self-published

WHERE WAS IT BANNED: The Vatican. In fact, all of his works were placed on the Vatican’s list of banned.

WHY WAS IT BANNED: Claimed that it depicted the Vatican in bad light, making light of murder and crime. Labeled immoralistic and anti-religious/atheist.


  1. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence (1928, Italy)


This book was a landmark of controversy in many places, sparking multiple obscenity trials. Not published until 40 years after publication in Great Britain, this book was claimed to have scandalized depictions of sexually explicit content. These days its considered one of the most significant romance novels in history and one of the major works of fiction written in the 20th century. . It’s a memorable novel about the adulterous love affair of a woman and the gamekeeper of her husband’s estate. If you love extraordinary love stories, this is one that is emotionally memorable.


WHERE WAS IT BANNED: Not only was the book banned in Australia, but a book describing the British trial, The Trial of Lady Chatterley, was also banned. Not published in Great Britain until forty years after original publication.

WHY WAS IT BANNED: Claimed to have extreme sexual conduct and labeled as an erotica back when it was illegal to publish the genre. Labeled sexually explicit, inappropriate language, overly scandalous.


  1. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (1929, Germany)


This is a war novel that showed the deterioration of a boy and his classmates as they live in the trenches, after they enlist in the German army during WWI. You see their hope change from enthusiasm and feelings of obligation, to resentment and depression.


WHERE WAS IT BANNED: The book and its sequel, The Road Back (1930), were among the books banned and burned in Nazi Germany.

WHY WAS IT BANNED: Labeled Un-Patriotic and Anti-War.


  1. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs (1959, France)


This book is unique simply for the way its written. Written in a set of loosely connected vignettes, the chapters can be read in any order. Its story is about a junkie named William Lee who takes on aliases as he travels from the US to Mexico to get to Tangier. The book is derived from the authors own experiences of these places as well as his previous addiction to drugs.


Grove Press (US)

WHERE WAS IT BANNED: The book was banned in Boston (eventually overturned), Los Angeles, and many other places in the United States. Also, several European publishers were harassed to try and ban it. Its one of Americas most recent obscenity trials.

WHY WAS IT BANNED: Claimed to have high levels of obscenity, including mentioning of child murder and pedophilia.


  1. One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1962, Russia)


This book is about the gulag Russian labor camps established by Stalin. It focuses on the lifelong prisons of political dissidents and displays totalitarian repression.


WHERE WAS IT BANNED: Banned in Russia during the reign of the Soviet Union

WHY WAS IT BANNED: Accused of not following Soviet principles. TH author was accused of opposing the basic principles of the Soviet Union and the books style of writing was deemed controversial. In 1970, the movie was banned by Finland who feared hurting external relations with Russia. Labeled unpatriotic and “untrue” by the Russian government.


  1. Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr. (1964, United States)


This is a postwar American writing. It focuses on the powerless, the homeless, and the dispossessed, highlighting the negative after affects of the war. Considered a classic post war novel today.


WHERE WAS IT BANNED: It was the subject of an important obscenity trial in the United Kingdom and was banned in Italy.

WHY WAS IT BANNED: Much controversy because of its frank portrayals of taboo subjects, such as drug use, street violence, gang rape, homosexuality, transvestism and domestic violence


  1. Shame by Taslima Nasrin (1993, Bangladesh)


This was a very controversial book, claimed by some to be the most controversial book in the middle east since The Satanic Verses. The story is about a Hindu family who stays in Bangladesh regardless of the mistreatment by the Muslim people. Eventually the harassment and mistreatment turns violent, as Muslim mobs erupt and arrive at their door. As this happens, their family begins to fall apart.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED BY: Originally self-published or published by a small indie press

WHERE WAS IT BANNED:  Bangladesh. Not only was it banned, but the author had to leave the country and go into hiding from the uproar it caused.

WHY WAS IT BANNED: Claimed to have criticized Islam and painted the Islamic people of Bangladesh in a bad light. Labeled religiously insulting and discriminatory and hateful.




Read these indie books and go celebrate the freedom of press!


Happy Banned Book Week! Read it all!



About Samantha Knoerzer

I am the Social Media Coordinator and Author Relations Manager for BiblioCrunch. And I love to read, OF COURSE! From the classics to YA and children's, you can find me reading it all. I have a masters in publishing from NYU's Print and Digital Media Studies masters program, and have undergraduate degrees in music, marketing, and english. I have a passion for reading, music, and travel. My goal is to travel to as many places around the world as possible. If you need to find me, you can catch me traveling all around the world at any chance I get – always with a book in hand!