How the Goose and the Dove Fell in Love: why Azerbaijan banned this “children’s” book
A book supposedly meant for children written by little-known poet Aygun Bal provoked a flurry of criticism, and was later banned in Azerbaijan. The fable speaks of the love of a goose for a pigeon, which agrees to a relationship of convenience.
Azerbaijani social media communities were worked into a frenzy by the photographs in some of the pages of this book, entitled “The Story of the Goose and the Dove”.
Judging by the illustrations and the preface by the author, the fable is meant for a very young audience, but it touches on themes that are quite adult.
For example, read the following selection from the book:
“The goose told the dove of his love, saying ‘I fell for you long ago’. She knew that the goose was married, and became even more coy and capricious. She was shorter than the goose, but still walked stubbornly arm in arm with him. The dove knew that he was not right for her, and she only loved him for his money.”
In the preface, Aygun Bal writes:
“I am certain that my fable, which addresses everyday family themes, will touch the hearts of young readers, and play a role in their moral upbringing”.
The State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs reacted quickly to the scandal. The announcement they released stated that the book does not meet the requirements of Azerbaijani legislation and is subject to a ban on sale and distribution.
The state committee even promised to take “appropriate measures” if the book continues to be published.
The author of the book justified her book to media sources. She says the book was published 12 years ago. But one of her acquaintances posted photos of some pages on his social network page, which caused a stir among the public.
“Only 150-200 copies of the book were published, and were not intended for sale. And the fact that the preface was published is an editor’s mistake,” said Aygun Bal.
Here are a couple of characteristic comments from social media:
“Why should our children know about your depraved life through fables? We need to exercise serious control over children’s literature”.
“If it really was such limited circulation, then the author should gather all the copies and burn them. What is with this outrage, neither the editor, nor the illustrator, nor the publisher, nor the author’s friends and acquaintances – no one noticed this orgy of debauchery”.