Jan 31, 2022 - Politics & Policy

"Maus" sales soar after banning by Tennessee school board

Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly, his wife, posing with a display of "Maus" in a book store in San Francisco in 1986.
Art Spiegelman and his wife, Françoise Mouly, with a display of "Maus" in a bookstore in San Francisco in 1986. Photo: Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

Sales of Art Spiegelman's 1980 Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel, "Maus," have soared after a Tennessee school board banned it, sending the book and its sequel to the top of Amazon's bestsellers list.

Why it matters: An uptick of book bans and conservative-sponsored legislation seeking to remove literary staples from curriculums have become part of a broader culture war in school districts across the country.

  • "Maus" considered the effects of the Holocaust on a family through anthropomorphic imagery, depicting Jewish characters as mice and Germans as cats.

Driving the news: The McMinn County School Board claimed last week that it did not intend to "diminish the value of 'Maus' as an impactful meaningful piece of literature" but took issue with the novel's "unnecessary use of profanity and nudity and its depiction of violence and suicide."

  • "One of the most important roles of an elected board of education is to reflect the values of the community it serves," it added. "Taken as a whole, the Board felt this work was simply too adult-oriented for use in our schools."
  • McMinn County has a population of roughly 53,000, and around 5,200 students attend public schools there.

What they're saying: Spiegelman told the Washington Post that he believes the book's banning "is a red alert."

  • "It’s part of a continuum, and just a harbinger of things to come," Spiegelman told the Post, adding that "the control of people’s thoughts is essential to all of this."

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