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Book News: Singapore Pulls 2 Children's Books With Gay Couples From Libraries

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Authorities in Singapore, where gay sex is illegal, have withdrawn two children's books about gay couples from libraries. In a statement, the National Library Board suggested that gayness and family values are incompatible: "Young children are among our libraries' most frequent visitors. Many of them browse books in our children's sections on their own. As such, NLB takes a pro-family and cautious approach in identifying titles for our young visitors." The two books are And Tango Makes Three, inspired by two real male penguins who hatched an egg together, and The White Swan Express,about four couples — one of which is a lesbian couple — who travel to China to adopt baby girls. The books will be pulped, according toTime.
  • For NPR's It's All Politics blog, Frank James writes about using the Bible as a political tool: "Here are two rules of American politics: Never let an opponent's attacks go unanswered, and if you're running in the South and have a good reason to be pictured holding a Bible, go for it."
  • In the Virginia Quarterly Review, Roxana Robinson writes about the painful fragility of her concentration and the importance of having a room of one's own: "Writing is a bit like inflating a vast oxygen tent contained by a thin filmy membrane. Each time I write I have to breathe life into this, slowly blowing it larger and larger, making it more and more substantial, giving it shape. The sound of anyone's voice, an approaching step, arrests me. I waver, and the whole filmy construct trembles, shudders, and then deflates, sliding into nothingness. It's gone."
  • Irish writer Colin Barrett has won the €25,000 ($34,000) Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award for his collection Young Skins. Alison MacLeod, a novelist and one of the prize judges, said of Barrett in a statement: "His vision is sharp, his wit is sly, and the stories in this collection come alive with that ineffable thing — soul." Previous winners include Edna O'Brien and Haruki Murakami. Young Skinswill be published in the U.S. next March by Grove Atlantic.
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    Annalisa Quinn is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR. She created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture for NPR.
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