The Trials of Portnoy: How Penguin Brought Down Australia’s Censorship System

2021 - Shortlisted


Patrick Mullins’ book is a shrewd and entertaining account of the slow but inexorable movement to end literary censorship in Australia, organised around the efforts of Penguin Books Australia to publish Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth, and the parallel efforts of the censorship authorities to ban it. This engaging and well-researched book enlivens its subject matter and turns publishers and booksellers into heroes. Mullins writes with flair as he synthesises a vast number of old and new sources. He avoids spelling out crude parallels to contemporary debates about freedom of speech and lets his material speak for itself, a decision that enriches the experience of the reader.