Dave Eggers, author of the dystopian satire The Circle, has said he will provide free copies of his novel to South Dakota schools, as well as copies of four other books that have been banned from schools in the district.
School administrators in Rapid City thought The Circle, along with Imbolo Mbue’s How Beautiful We Were, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Bernardine’s Booker Prize-winning Girl, Woman, Other Evaristo, were inappropriate for students. Copies from district schools have been marked as surplus and must be destroyed.
Valerie Brablec Seales, director of teaching, learning and innovation for Rapid City Area Schools, told the board of education that teachers had requested the books for a new 12th-grade English course. Concerns about one of the five books first surfaced in August, the Rapid City Journal reported.
“The massive destruction of books by school boards is an unconscionable horror, and the young freethinkers of South Dakota should not be subjected to it,” Eggers said. “All high school students should have unrestricted access to literature, so if you are a Rapid City high school senior, please email our office and request any of these titles. For every copy the school board destroys, let’s add a new one to local circulation.”
Eggers, who founded the nonprofit publishing company McSweeney’s in 1988, is known for standing up for his principles. He refused to sell the hardcover edition of The Every, its sequel to The Circle, through Amazon, in a position against the retailer’s monopoly on the book trade.
Students can email McSweeney CEO Amanda Uhle at [email protected] if they want any of the banned books shipped to them, and the titles will be shipped by independent bookstores.
Bernardino Evaristo shared Book Riot’s article about Rapid City’s ban on her book on Twitter, commenting, “Girl, Woman, Other is inappropriate reading material for 17-18 year olds, apparently, and is on a list of books to be they will ban in South Dakota ‘all of which are by or about people of color and/or queer people.’ Funny that.”
Alison Bechdel also took to Twitter to speak out about “book ban madness,” thanking Eggers and Uhle for their plan to fight back.