Anyone who's grown up with The Shawshank Redemption knows the value of a prison library—perhaps none more than the story's author, Stephen King. So it should come as heartening news (or as heartening as any news concerning a detention facility for alleged terrorists can be) that Guantanamo Bay will now accept a previously rejected copy of the writer's beloved 1986 novel It.
The book arrived as part of a private donation, which included about 70 books in new condition, the Miami Herald reports. It was the only one rejected, without explanation, after vetting by a library contractor who is not named Brooks:
A contractor named Milton who has managed the library in recent years tells visiting reporters that he screens books and videos and sometimes excludes those with violent or sexual themes. Itincludes a sex scene between a 12-year-old girl and five boys of about the same age, one after another, which apparently didn’t bother whoever was functioning as censor in 2008.
As it turns out, the book was already approved five years ago and another copy has been floating around the library ever since, so the banning was pointless as well as erroneous.
King's novel is not the only one barred from entry at Guantanamo in recent weeks. In a New York Times op-ed last week, popular crime writer John Grisham revealed that his novels have been banned at the prison for containing "impermissible content," whatever that might entail. Grisham wrote of an Algerian prisoner named Nabil Hadjarab who has spent much of his time in solitary confinement and who particularly enjoys Grisham's books. He will not likely be reading them any time soon.
But, as The Times reported in June, the prison library does contain about 9,000 titles, ranging from Arabic translations of Gabriel García Márquez and Danielle Steel to Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Those 9,000 selections have all made it past the screening process, which sniffs out "too much profanity, anti-American or extremist themes." And the prison's most popular choice suggests that prisoners' literary tastes don't deviate too much from the rest of society—like us, they can't get enough of Fifty Shades of Grey.