A controversial book of “adult fiction” by writer Aung Yin Nyein has been pulled from the shelves of Burma’s bookstores after critics complained that the erotic novel is “obscene”.
The World of the Romancebots was recalled by publishers Pinlae Thit Literature Group after pressure from the Printing and Publication Registration Department. Government sources now say the publishers could face legal action.
A manager from Pinlae Thit Literature who asked to remain anonymous told DVB that they decided this week to recall the book – the cover of which carries a disclaimer saying “Not for conservatives” – after a strong recommendation by the government department.
“The scrutiny department contacted the author directly and suggested it would be better to recall the book as it is causing a scene,” he said. “We acted on that advice and removed all copies from the shelves.”
Ye Htut, Burma’s deputy-minister of information, said the government is considering taking legal action against the publisher and the author because the book was deemed to be “obscene material”.
“The Printing and Publication Registration Law, drafted by the Ministry of Information and approved by parliament, stipulates that publishers who print such literature can be prosecuted,” he said.
“Moreover, the Penal Code also forbids obscene literature. We are presently consulting legal experts to determine the next move.”
Sithu Aung Myint, a well-known columnist who wrote a scathing review of the novel, said such a book would “only bring evil” to Burmese society.
“I read the book and believe it carries no artistic value or even education about sexual health,” he said. “Having something like this published legally in Burma – while the number of underage rape cases is dramatically increasing – will bring nothing good to our society. In fact, it will only bring evil.”
The book has seen the subject of much debate on Burma’s social media, with many users calling it a disgrace to Burmese literature.
Myo Myint Nyeing, a member of PEN Myanmar, an informal writers’ union which supports freedom of expression, said he sees the furor surrounding the publication as a “bit of a joke”.
“It’s ridiculous to believe that a single book will destroy the Burmese literature world,” he said. “Nothing is going to happen over a novel that sells just 400 or 600 copies.”
Writer Chit Oo Nyo said a work of literature should promote morality to its readers; otherwise it can be deemed “undesirable”.
“Works of literature such as novels and poems should aim to promote goodwill, intelligence and morality among readers; otherwise they can be deemed undesirable,” he said.