'MAUS,' Graphic Novel on Holocaust Makes Amazon's Best Seller List After Tennessee School Board Bans Book

Author Art Spiegelman, who compared the Tennessee school board to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, told a news outlet in an email that he was “heartened by reader responses.” 

“Maus,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust, has made Amazon’s best seller’s list after a Tennessee school board voted to ban it, according to published news reports.

On Jan. 10, members from Tennessee’s McMinn County School Board voted 10-0 to remove the book from their eighth-grade curriculum due in part, to illustrations of nudity and “rough, objectionable language," that they claimed was not appropriate for students, People reported. 

The graphic novel was created by author/illustrator Art Spiegelman, 73. The book tells the story of Spiegelman’s parents, who were Polish, during the Holocaust. In the book, the Jewish people are the mice and the Nazis are the cats.

On Friday, “The Complete Maus,” held the No. 1 spot among Amazon’s best sellers in the categories of fiction, satire, and comics and graphic novels, and the No. 7 spot overall for all books, CBNC reported.

"Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History," the first installment of  “The Complete Maus,” was the No. 5 best-selling book on Amazon. In the description of the book, The Wall Street Journal described it as “the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust."

“Maus II: A Survivor's Tale: And Her My Troubles Began," part two of the story, was the No. 1 best seller in the European History category, the news outlet reported. 

Spiegelman, who compared the Tennessee school board to the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, told CNBC in an email that he was “heartened by reader responses.” 

"The school board could've checked with their book-banning predecessor, [Russia President] Vladimir Putin: he made the Russian edition of Maus illegal in 2015 (also with good intentions—banning swastikas) and the small publisher sold out immediately and has had to reprint repeatedly," Spiegelman wrote. 

Since the ban, some booksellers are stepping forward. Ryan Higgins, owner of “Comics Conspiracy,” a comic book store in Sunnyvale, Calif., who said he was a teenager when he read “Maus,” was pretty shocked when he heard about the ban, The Washington Post reported. 

“It’s just so bizarre — the actual images of the Holocaust are the most graphic, nightmare-inducing images in the world,” Higgins said. “Why take ‘Maus’ out of the curriculum when it makes this horror more teachable to a wider and younger audience?"

Higgins told the publication that reading the book was an eye-opener for him. He said, "This is about more than superheroes fighting bad guys. It was heartbreaking and emotional, and it brought a whole new window to something I had little knowledge about.”

Now, the bookseller is shipping “free” copies of the book to anyone who is interested in the Tennessee district where the graphic novel was banned. 

On Tuesday afternoon, “Maus” was temporarily out of stock on Amazon’s website. 

In the meantime, those who obtained a copy have posted their review of the book using the words: “masterpiece,”  “a must-read” and “important, different from other Holocaust-era presentations,” to describe it. 

“This was an excellent graphic novel that captures the fear, the barbaric cruelty and nihilism of the Holocaust more poignantly than many a text-only book could,” one person wrote in part.

There were also some who did not hold back as they expressed their feelings on the ban. 

“Unlike the idiots running schools in Tennessee, teachers know this book is not only brilliant but a perfect intro for teaching The Holocaust. Trying to ban any book is dangerous and egregious—-but banning this one? On the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz? They’re not even being subtle. This book is incredibly valuable and important. Everyone should read it.” 

Another wrote: "Wake Up America! This wonderful graphic novel is being banned in American schools, in 2022 - this is how it begins , the cutting off of voices and historical facts; everyone needs to read the Maus novels while we still are allowed to do so."

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