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Book News: Egypt Bans Ridley Scott's 'Exodus' For 'Historical Inaccuracies'

Rameses (Joel Edgerton) and his wife Nefertari (Golshifteh Farahani) try to save their stricken child, a victim of one of the plagues, in <em>Exodus: Gods And Kings</em>.
Kerry Brown
Twentieth Century Fox
Rameses (Joel Edgerton) and his wife Nefertari (Golshifteh Farahani) try to save their stricken child, a victim of one of the plagues, in Exodus: Gods And Kings.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing and the occasional author behaving badly.

When a book makes the leap from print to the big screen, it's not uncommon for filmmakers to take a few liberties with the adaptation. When that book is the Bible, however, those liberties can attract a bit more attention.

At least, that's the case for director Ridley Scott's recent film Exodus: Gods and Kings — which, according to the BBC, has just been banned in Egypt for what censors called "historical inaccuracies." The censors took issue with the film's depiction of the parting of the Red Sea, which, contrary to the Book of Exodus, occurs by earthquake rather than divine intervention. Censors are also upset with the film's suggestion that Jews had a hand in building the pyramids.

Perhaps in a moment of prescience, NPR's Robert Siegel spoke Monday with Hebrew professor Robert Alter to get his take on the film's historical accuracy. Alter's assessment was, well, mixed. "It's not exactly Exodus," Alter said. "It's panorama and pageantry, which is what film does — and why shouldn't it do it? And I would say it's a little bit like a Clint Eastwood Western."

Ode To San Souci, Storyteller Behind 'Mulan': The world of children's literature has lost a prolific storyteller. The Contra Costa Times reports that Robert D. San Souci, the California native behind dozens of books, has died at the age of 68 from suspected complications related to a fall.

San Souci frequently collaborated with his brother, Daniel, who often illustrated the stories for which Robert provided the text. Robert San Souci remains best known for his work with the Disney film Mulan, which he wrote the story for and later reworked into a book of his own, called Fa Mulan.

"It's a shock, of course," Daniel told the Contra Costa Times. "We loved him to pieces."

Ventura V. 'American Sniper,' Round 2:The legal fight unfolding over American Sniper has lately opened up a second front. The book, a best-selling memoir by the late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, is now the focus of two lawsuits. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Kyle's widow, Taya Kyle, has filed to appeal a $1.8 million ruling in favor of former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura against her husband's estate.

Ventura, a Navy veteran himself, has been active in court, claiming that Chris Kyle fabricated an incident in the book that portrays Kyle punching "Scruff Face" — a moniker later identified as Ventura. Besides the lawsuit brought — and won — by Ventura against Kyle's estate this summer, Ventura also filed a defamation suit against Kyle's publisher, HarperCollins just last week.

Details on Taya Kyle's appeal are few, according to the StarTribune, and it will likely be months before a ruling is rendered. In the meantime, her husband, who was killed at a shooting range in 2012, is being played on the big-screen by Bradley Cooper — in a film adaptation of American Sniperthat opened on Christmas Day.

Note: Book News will be stepping out for a bit of a holiday break. While your trusty column takes a breather, get some rest and get reading. Here's a little something to help with that — and to get ready for what's to come. Expect to see a fresh form for Book News in the new year.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Colin Dwyer covers breaking news for NPR. He reports on a wide array of subjects — from politics in Latin America and the Middle East, to the latest developments in sports and scientific research.