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Top Girls banned

Teachers, parents and authors in New South Wales have condemned a decision by a government-appointed review panel to ban the play Top Girls and novel Fineflour from use in high schools, writes Geoff Maslen.

The two texts are the first in 10 years to be taken off NSW high school English lists after the review panel declared them to be unsuitable. The play is by British playwright Caryl Churchill and the book by Australian author Gillian Mears.

The panel said the works lacked literary merit and were riddled with banal concepts and crude language. They have been dropped from the list of recommded books to be used in senior English classes in 1998 but will not have to be removed from school libraries.

The Australian Society of Authors said it was appalled at the "gross political interference" by the NSW government which had backed the panel's recommendation. A society spokeswoman said gratuitous violence and crude language were hardly the exclusive province of print texts.

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