September 21–27 is Banned Books Week, and this year NYRB Classics will continue to pay tribute to our books that were once censored or banned. Last year we wrote about Gabriel Chevallier’s Fear, Andrey Platonov’s Happy Moscow, and Alberto Moravia’s Agostino. This year, we’ll begin with Curzio Malaparte’s The Skin.
As Rachel Kushner writes in the introduction to The Skin, Malaparte’s novel about the horrors of war was first published in France in 1949, causing “outrage and derision,” and was then banned by the Catholic Church and the city of Naples. The NYRB Classics edition is the first unexpurgated English translation of The Skin, a novel which has proved timeless. As Rachel Kushner writes:
The more time has passed, the more precise and accurate The Skin has come to seem. It uncovers truths, no matter how ugly—concerning war, the dissolution of Europe, the condition of life under foreign occupation, the nature of the American occupiers, and in some predictive way, a new and hegemonic world that Malaparte’s stark vision seems almost to anticipate: a ruthless global marketplace. Yet while The Skin traverses a complex historical moment and has much to say about it, this work, Malaparte’s very finest, comes to reside ultimately in the realm not of history or politics but purely of art. It is a work of blacker-than-black comedy, in a category of its own. A new kind of novel, to reflect a new reality.
Check the blog this week for more of our challenged, censored, and banned books.