Are There Still Topics Too Taboo for Fiction?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka


By Edward Nawotka

Today’s lead story by Chip Rossetti discusses the popularity of Essam Youssef’s heroin-fueled novel 1/4 Gram, which is set in the world Cairo’s high society. Some of the popularity of the novel is that it portrays a world — a taboo world — little seen by readers in the Arab world. The same could be said for Stieg Larsson’s work about Scandinavia (as discussed yesterday). But in the US, UK and other countries where free speech laws have made most forms of speech and writing permissible, there’s little that hasn’t been the subject of fiction. Often times, the more violent, and I would argue, borderline misogynist, the more popular the book becomes (James Patterson has some of the most graphically violent scenes I’ve read in recent fiction). Religion is fair game (for the most part), as is going so far as to discuss wanting to assassinate a sitting US President.

So, the question is: In a world where there is increasing tolerance, even craving, for grim reality, are there still subjects that remain taboo?

Let us know what you think in the comments below or via Twitter using #ppdiscuss.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.