Politics

Hong Kong tribunal offers Haruki Murakami’s newest novel an ‘indecent’ ranking

The latest work by novelist Haruki Murakami was banned from Hong Kong’s annual book fair after it was deemed “indecent” by the Obscene Articles Tribunal, local media reported Friday.

“Killing Commendatore,” a multivolume work that went on sale last year, has been temporarily classified as “Class II — indecent materials,” along with a pornographic magazine, according to a notice issued by the tribunal last week.

The classification means the book can now only be sold in bookstores after being wrapped with a warning sticker attached.

Printed material is subject to the tribunal’s three-tier classification. Class I items are suitable for all ages, Class II items are deemed indecent and not to be sold to people under 18, and Class III items are deemed obscene and cannot be sold.

No reasons were given for the novel’s classification. The book tells the story of a 36-year-old portrait painter who lives on a mountain after his wife seeks a divorce, and depicts the strange incidents happening around him.

Although other novels by Murakami also contain explicit sexual scenes, only “Killing Commendatore” was given an indecent classification by the tribunal, which is led by a magistrate and at least two adjudicators under the judiciary.

During a massive occupation protest in 2014, Murakami sent a message of encouragement to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters, who staged a 79-day demonstration against what was said to be an undemocratic election reform plan China had drafted for Hong Kong.

The weeklong book fair runs through Tuesday.

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