Tennessee School Board Bans Maus, the Pulitzer-Prize Winning Graphic Novel on the Holocaust; the Book Becomes #1 Bestseller on Amazon

Last week, a Ten­nessee school board vot­ed unan­i­mous­ly to ban Maus, the Pulitzer-win­ning graph­ic nov­el about the Holo­caust, cit­ing instances of pro­fan­i­ty and nudi­ty. Specif­i­cal­ly, the McMinn Coun­ty school board object­ed to utter­ances of the words “God damn” and a small, bare­ly-per­cep­ti­ble breast. (Look close­ly, and you may even­tu­al­ly find it.) Rather uncom­fort­ably, the ban­ning came on the eve of Inter­na­tion­al Holo­caust Remem­brance Day, and it fig­ures into a larg­er right-lean­ing effort to ban books coun­try­wide.

Hap­pi­ly, bad deci­sions can have good unin­tend­ed con­se­quences. In recent days, Art Spiegel­man’s Maus has soared to #1 on Ama­zon’s best­seller list. (Anoth­er edi­tion of the book sits at #3 on the list.) Else­where, a col­lege pro­fes­sor has cre­at­ed a free online course on Maus designed sole­ly for stu­dents from McMinn Coun­ty. And with­in Ten­nessee itself, book­stores are giv­ing away free copies of Spiegel­man’s clas­sic, while a church has decid­ed to con­vene con­ver­sa­tions on the ground­break­ing book.

Above, you can watch Spiegel­man respond to the ban and won­der whether it’s “a har­bin­ger of things to come,” a step in a larg­er effort to efface the mem­o­ry of the Holo­caust.

Relat­ed Con­tent

How Art Spiegel­man Designs Com­ic Books: A Break­down of His Mas­ter­piece, Maus

Artist is Cre­at­ing a Parthenon Made of 100,000 Banned Books: A Mon­u­ment to Democ­ra­cy & Intel­lec­tu­al Free­dom

The 850 Books a Texas Law­mak­er Wants to Ban Because They Could Make Stu­dents Feel Uncom­fort­able

America’s First Banned Book: Dis­cov­er the 1637 Book That Mocked the Puri­tans

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    A sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion we had in Mex­i­co some years ago. A poor­ly edu­cat­ed politi­cian (the Sec­re­tary of Home Affairs!) tried to ban Car­los Fuentes’s clas­sic novel­la Aura, because a mid­dle school teacher had her stu­dents read it (one of the pupils was HIS daugh­ter). The affair was wide­ly aired in the news and the ban did­n’t pro­ceed. He made a fool of him­self and the book topped the lists for weeks.

  • Crash says:

    There are so many stu­pid takes on this, of course CNN is try­ing to make it look like “those evil South­ern­ers are ban­ning a book about the Holo­caust”
    They banned it because Maus isn’t a chil­dren’s book. Spiegle­man him­self has said in the past that he con­sid­ered giv­ing it to young chil­dren to be a form of abuse. Ele­men­tary school kids aren’t going to under­stand it because it’s writ­ten on an adult lev­el. Put it in high school or col­lege libraries sure, but it’s wast­ed space at ele­men­tary schools.

  • Dan says:

    I’m con­fused by the con­fla­tion of “removed from cur­ricu­lum” to “banned” by every source I read. These aren’t the same thing, and I’m under the impres­sion that it’s not “banned” but they’re just not going to teach it any­more, pre­sum­ably to be replaced by some­thing they see as more appro­pri­ate, maybe Night by Elie Wiesel. Can some­one tell me if I have this wrong? Words are impor­tant.

  • Malvenue says:

    This sto­ry is a lie. The truth is a school board found that the book was age inap­pro­pri­ate for 8th graders due to its sub­ject mat­ter and removed it from a SINGLE read­ing list. The book has not been banned, it has not been removed from any libraries, and stu­dents can still get their hands on it.

    But of course that does­n’t mat­ter one bit to the left wing pro­pa­gan­dists. After all, “Hill­billys Ban Holo­caust Book” is a much juici­er head­line than the truth.

    On Inter­na­tion­al Holo­caust Remem­brance Day, no less.

    For the record, I’ve read the book and it is extra­or­di­nary. I high­ly rec­om­mend it.

  • Doodlebug says:

    Some­thing sim­i­lar worked in the last 50s to get all the high­school kids to read Pay­ton Place, a bit of lit­er­ary fluff. I did­n’t both­er, because I was already read­ing about the child­dren and grand­chil­dren of Medici Pope’s and lat­er about what Alexan­der the Great’s sol­diers did to while away the evenings on their long march to India and Chi­na.

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