Golden Mean cover too “offensive” for BC Ferries bookstores

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You won’t find Annabel Lyon’s brilliant debut novel, “The Golden Mean”, on BC Ferries bookstore shelves anytime soon due to a no-nudity policy.  I wonder if bookshops in Florence refuse to sell books that feature images of Michelangelo sculptures or if the Musee Rodin wraps a “belly band” around the nudes on display there.  Seems to me if you have to have a no-nudity policy at least you consider what the object is.  This is a book that should be celebrated, not kept off the shelves because of a misguided nudity policy.  Seriously, is there any possible way of misinterpreting this cover image as offensive?  If so, I’d like to know how.

Bare bums are banned at the B.C. Ferries bookstore — even when they’re on the cover of an award-winning novel by a New Westminster author.

The offending work is The Golden Mean, by Annabel Lyon, which won the 2009 Rogers Writers’ Trust fiction prize and was in the final five for both the prestigious Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Award.

Lyon wrote on her blog earlier this year that the novel, while on sale in paperback across Canada, was not available on B.C. Ferries, “since the trade paperback still features a bare bum on the cover. Oh, B.C. Ferries. You have one too, you know you do!”

B.C. Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall defended the move Friday.

“The publisher of this book approached us over a year ago,” she said. “Because we’re obviously a ‘family show’ and we’ve got children in our gift shops, we had suggested we could carry the book if there’s what’s called a ‘belly band,’ wrap around the photo.”

She said when publisher Random House refused, B.C. Ferries chose not to carry the book.

The cover features a picture of a naked youth on a horse and the book is a fictional account of the time the philosopher Aristotle was tutor to a young Alexander the Great.

“While some people might think it’s art or appropriate or whatever, parents of young people might not think it’s appropriate for young children to view,” added Marshall.

The book has been widely praised in literary circles.

“In this alarmingly confident and transporting debut novel, Lyon offers us that rarest of treats: a book about philosophy, about the power of ideas, that chortles and sings like an earthy romance,” reads the citation for the Rogers award.

Read more.

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