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January 31, 2022 2:49 pm
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Acclaimed Holocaust Novel ‘Maus’ Tops Best Seller Lists After Tennessee School District Ban

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

French-language copies of Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel “Maus.” Photo: ActuaLitté/Flickr

An acclaimed graphic novel about the Holocaust that was recently removed from the curriculum of a Tennessee school district has shot to the top of the best seller lists of the world’s largest online booksellers.

Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel “Maus” is based on interviews with his father, a Holocaust survivor, and explores both the horrors of the Nazi genocide and its traumatic aftereffects on survivors and their children. It has been widely acclaimed since it was first published in the 1980s and early 1990s, and won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992.

On Jan. 10, the McMinn County School Board voted unanimously to remove the book from its eighth-grade curriculum. Director of Schools Lee Parkison said that the issues were “rough objectionable language” and a nude depiction of a woman.

A hardback edition of “The Complete Maus,” encompassing both volumes of Spiegelman’s work, reached #1 on Amazon’s Best Sellers list on Sunday. It remained in the #2 slot on Monday, with a paperback edition of the first volume just behind it at #3. A paperback of the second volume was at #9.

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The book also topped the categories of “Jewish Holocaust History,” “Memoirs,” and “Literary Graphic Novels.”

A box set of both volumes was at #1 on Barnes and Noble’s Top 100 and paperback best seller lists on Monday. Barnes and Noble’s supply of the book has apparently been exhausted, with the book listed as “temporarily out of stock online.”

In an interview with CNBC last Wednesday, Spiegelman said of the book’s removal, “I’m kind of baffled by this. It’s leaving me with my jaw open, like, ‘What?’”

He described the school board’s decision as “Orwellian.”

“I’ve met so many young people who … have learned things from my book,” he said. “I also understand that Tennessee is obviously demented. There’s something going on very, very haywire there.”

Acclaimed comics writer and award-winning graphic novelist Neil Gaiman also weighed in, saying, “There’s only one kind of people who would vote to ban ‘Maus,’ whatever they are calling themselves these days.”

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