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New Tajikistan Rule: No Books Allowed In or Out Without Approval

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Editor's Note:

A roundabout way to censorship in Tajikistan, bad news for literary completists, and more, all here and all right now in your Daily Blunt.

How important are our First Amendment rights? Just take a look at Tajikistan, a small nation in central Asia that has just declared that no books will be allowed to cross its borders —  whether you’re traveling in or out — without written permission from its Culture Ministry. While the government claims to have taken this step to “protect valuable manuscripts from being smuggled out of the country,” citizens believe the law is actually meant to curb the spread of “extremist” religious materials within the country’s borders. Wonder if it’s too late to get The Handmaid’s Tale translated into Tajik…

Bad news for literary completists, via Mental Floss. According to researchers’ best guesses, there are more than 130 million books in the world. As a Redditor helpfully pointed out: “If even a tenth of a percent of them are worth reading, you’d have to read three books every day for a hundred years to get through them all.” Meanwhile, the U.S. is still responsible for about forty percent of all printed material being published on Earth, so as long as we don’t start converting it all into firewood in the near future, we still have something to be quite proud of.

Judd Apatow’s Sick in the Head offered insights into the comedy world through a series of extraordinary interviews, but the author is far from finished. The Hollywood Reporter says Apatow will be following up his collection with a sequel, Sicker in the Head, featuring chats with greats such as Norman Lear, Kevin Hart, and Whitney Cummings. The author proceeds from this book will go to charity, so in addition to considering Apatow one of our foremost comedy filmmakers, you can also consider him a kind of volunteer comedy historian.

Many legendary authors take the long road to fame, with many unusual (or just unusually mundane) stops along the way. Electric Literature has a series of infographics revealing a few of the less illustrious occupations enjoyed by the likes of James Joyce, Harper Lee, and Chuck Palahniuk on their way to super-stardom. Some of these conceal a much more complex story: Ken Kesey’s journey from “volunteer for a CIA study” to “janitor in a mental hospital” was itself the basis for Tom Wolfe’s groundbreaking work of nonfiction, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.