In what can be termed as India's "Fahrenheit 451" moment, author Sanjay Dixit, on Sunday asked people to boycott Harry Potter and burn William Dalrymple's books to mark their protest against the withdrawal of the book 'Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story'.
On Saturday, a day after it went viral for all the wrong reasons, a new book was called back by its publishers - Bloomsbury India. It was also suggested that historian William Dalrymple stepped in for stopping the publication of the book.
This move by Bloomsbury India has irked several others including few writers. Taking to Twitter, author Sanjay Dixit claimed that historian William Dalrymple and author Khaled Hosseini "orchestrated" the withdrawal of Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story. Dixit further went on to ask his followers to burn the books by Bloomsbury, Dalrymple and Hosseini.
"Ok folks. If you are really outraged, show it. Now we know that it is @DalrympleWill and @khaledhosseini who orchestrated withdrawal of #DelhiRiots2020 book of @advmonikaarora and others. If you have their books, make their bonfire at home and upload the video. Never buy again (sic)," Dixit wrote.
The incident can be termed as India's "Fahrenheit 451" moment. 'Fahrenheit 451' was a novel written by American writer Ray Bradbury. The book's tagline explains the title: "Fahrenheit 451 – the temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns...". Bradbury said that he wrote Fahrenheit 451 because of his concerns at the time (during the McCarthy era) about the threat of book burning in the United States.
The McCarthy era lasted from the late 1940s through the 1950s. It was characterized by heightened political repression and a campaign spreading fear of Communist influence on American institutions and of espionage by Soviet agents.
Earlier, Dixit had asked to "boycott the Harry Potter series" published by Bloomsbury. On Twitter, he wrote, "In order to teach a real lesson to Bloomsbury, everyone tag @BloomsburyBooks their parent organisation and boycott the Harry Potter series. They earn ₹10-15 crores per year out of that title. Take a vow not to let that series enter your house #BoycottBloomsbury (sic)."
On Saturday, Bloomsbury India faced massive backlash after a poster a book launch event for 'Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story'. The poster had featured BJP leader Kapil Mishra as one of the guests of honours and this did not go down well with many on social media platforms.
Mishra had allegedly made a rather incendiary speech in the run-up to the riots, and while there had been no official sanctions against him, people were not too happy with the gesture.
After the controversy, the company clarified that its logo had been used without authorisation in the launch event that was not endorsed by it.
Perhaps deciding that this was not enough, Bloomsbury India on Saturday evening withdrew publication of the book, even as the writers, Kapil Mishra and others held a book launch event.
In an official statement that was shared with The Free Press Journal, the publishing house said that the decision had been taken "in view of very recent events including a virtual pre-publication launch organised without our knowledge by the authors, with participation by parties of whom the Publishers would not have approved."