The novel Snow Falling on Cedars has been removed from school library shelves and English class reading lists by an Ontario Catholic school board after a complaint about the book's sexually explicit content.

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board is setting up a committee to review the book and determine whether to put it back into circulation.

School board spokesman Bruce Campbell said the review was called in response to an anonymous letter sent to a trustee just before Christmas that the board believes came from a parent. The book was part of a Grade 11 English course in a Mississauga school.

"This is a very rare occurrence, and I can't recall the last time a book has been reviewed by a committee. It's been a while," said Campbell.

Campbell stressed in an interview with CBC News that the book is not banned, but temporarily removed.

Sexual content,language controversial

Board policy requires that complaints about books not resolved at a school level must be reviewed by a committee.

Written by U.S. novelist David Guterson, Snow Falling on Cedars is about the murder trial of a Japanese-American man in the death of a fellow fisherman.

Set in 1954, the novel explores the effect of Japanese exile camps during the Second World War on the residents of the island where the trial takes place. One of the story lines also deals with an interracial love story.

The bestseller won the 1995 PEN/Faulkner award and the American Booksellers Association book of the year award.

In the U.S., some schools haveremoved the book from libraries and curricula because ofits sexual content, obscenities and exploration of racial themes.

Campbell said he expects the committee will make a decision on the novel in several weeks.