BOOK OF MERCY
2011 Midwest Book Awards Finalist
A Funny Novel about a Serious Subject—Censorship
Minnesota author Sherry Roberts tackles the serious topic of censorship with a story filled with humor and unforgettable characters in Book of Mercy, a new release from Osmyrrah Publishing.
In Book of Mercy, a group of influential women—the Mercy Study Club—decides to remove “undesirable” books from the school library. It was supposed to be easy. But they hadn’t planned on Antigone Brown, a woman who has trouble reading road signs, keeps a stone in her pocket to help her remember right from left, and despairs of ever being a good mother to her unborn child. As Antigone is quick to tell you, she is no hero. But now she will have to face her greatest fear to save the town’s books.
“This novel is inspired by an actual book challenge that occurred in my daughter’s high school in North Carolina,” Roberts says. “She came home one day and said, ‘Mom, they’re banning books!’ A parent complained about The Old Gringo by Carlos Fuentes, and the school took it out of circulation. Eventually, the book was returned to the library shelves, after a public meeting and a review committee assessment. However, in the process, the English teacher resigned.”
All too often, Roberts says, censorship is a parental issue because it is about power and control. “Every parent has to face the same question that my character Antigone Brown ponders: how do we protect our children from the world but save the world for our children? What I learned in writing this book and in raising my daughters is that books can never be allowed to disappear from the shelves without a squeak. We must say something; explode the discussion in letters, e-mails, tweets, and public meetings. We must never let censorship dissolve into the dark.”
Communities all over America face situations like the one in Book of Mercy—perhaps more often than you think. According to the American Library Association, on average about 500 books are challenged every year in the United States—and those are just the ones reported. Among the books challenged or banned in the United States in 2010-11 were The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, a parent claimed that it gave her 11-year-old daughter nightmares and could numb other children to the effects of violence; What’s Happening to My Body? Book for Boys: A Guide for Parents and Sons, which contains definitions of rape, incest, sexual assault and intercourse and was banned in 21 schools in Texas after a parent complained about it; and Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, challenged in Republic, MO, schools because it is allegedly “soft pornography” and “glorifies drinking, cursing, and premarital sex.”
About the Author: Sherry Roberts is the author of a novel about art and creativity called Maud’s House (Papier-Mache Press, California) and two nonfiction books on the city of Greensboro, North Carolina. She has contributed essays and articles to national publications such as USA Today. Her short fiction has been published in newspapers, literary magazines, and O. Henry Literary Festival Short Stories. After years as a newspaper reporter and magazine editor, she started her own company with her husband, The Roberts Group Editorial & Design (www.editorialservice.com), to provide editorial services and Web development to businesses and book publishers. She lives in Apple Valley, MN. Visit Sherry Roberts’s blog: www.sherry-roberts.com.
ISBN: 978-0-9638880-4-4; 242 pages; Fiction/Contemporary Women/ Humor/Relationships
Publication date: September 2011
For more information: www.osmyrrahpublishing.com
Read an excerpt of Book of Mercy
Author is available for interviews.