Holocaust book ‘Maus’ sees sales soar after school board ban

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Holocaust book 'Maus' sees sales soar after school board ban

“Maus” — the decades-old series of graphic novels about the Holocaust that was banned by a Tennessee school board last week — has skyrocketed to the top of an Amazon bestsellers list.

More than $83,000 also has been raised so far to give free copies to students.

Art Spiegelman’s 30-year-old Pulitzer Prize-winning series was not even in Amazon’s top 1,000 at the beginning of last week, when news broke of McMinn County’s ban over what it deemed “unnecessary” violence, nudity and swearing in the novels.

But by Monday, the complete collection was at the top of the online giant’s “Best Sellers in Literary Graphic Novels” — with the first and second books individually rounding up the top three.

The series almost shared the same sweep in Amazon’s overall bestsellers list, with the collection in second place, “Maus I” in third and “Maus II” in ninth. The demand for it is so great that Amazon warned that copies would not be available until the end of February.

This illustration photo taken in Los Angeles, California on January 27, 2022 shows a person holding the graphic novel "Maus" by Art Spiegelman.
A Tennessee school board banned “Maus,” a 30-year-old Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel series about the Holocaust, over claims it included “unnecessary” violence, nudity and swearing.
AFP via Getty Images

Only Peter Schweizer’s powerful book “Red-Handed” on China’s influence on American politics — and recently exclusively previewed by The Post — prevented it from a clean sweep at the top.

At the same time as online sales of “Maus” are rocketing, a store in McMinn County’s neighboring Knoxville has started an online fundraiser to buy copies for US students — raising more than $83,000 by Monday, more than four times its goal of $20,000.

“Art Spiegelman’s masterpiece is one of the most important, impactful and influential graphic novels of all time. We believe it is a must-read for everyone,” wrote fundraising sponsor Nirvana Comics Knoxville.

Pages from the graphic novel "Maus" by American cartoonist Art Spiegelman are pictured in this illustration.
The novel is about Spiegelman’s father’s experience as a Holocaust survivor.
REUTERS

Spiegelman — who won a Pulitzer in 1992 for the books about his father’s experiences as a Holocaust survivor — suggested history forewarned the response.

“The school board could’ve checked with their book-banning predecessor, Vladimir Putin,” the 73-year-old author told CNBC of the Russian dictator.

“He made the Russian edition of ‘Maus’ illegal in 2015 … and the small publisher sold out immediately and has had to reprint repeatedly,” Spiegelman wrote.

US comic book artist Art Spiegelman poses.
Spiegelman compared the school board’s ban on his novel to a similar one made by Putin in 2015.
AFP via Getty Images

“The Streisand effect struck again,” he added, referring to censorship back-firing.

The term refers to singer Barbra Streisand’s 2003 attempt to ban photos of her house that instead led to tens of thousands of people viewing them for the first time.

Spiegelman said he hopes to “coordinate a public/Zoom event for the McMinn area where I will … talk and take questions about Maus with local citizens.”

Two books of the graphic novel "Maus" by American cartoonist Art Spiegelman.
A store that neighbors Knoxville raised more than $83,000 to buy copies of “Maus” for US students.
REUTERS

Other stores also offered free copies of “Maus” for affected McMinn County students, while a North Carolina professor offered them a free online course on the banned series.

US comic book artist Art Spiegelman poses.
Spiegelman said he hopes to coordinate a public event in the area so he can answer questions about his novel with local citizens.
AFP via Getty Images

The school board voted Jan. 10 to remove “Maus” because of its “inappropriate language” and an illustration of a nude woman, according to minutes from a panel meeting.

The board did not respond to a request for comment from The Post on Monday.

In a statement last week, it insisted that the books’ “unnecessary use of profanity and nudity and its depiction of violence and suicide” made it “simply too adult-oriented for use in our schools.

“We do not diminish the value of Maus as an impactful and meaningful piece of literature, nor do we dispute the importance of teaching our children the historical and moral lessons and realities of the Holocaust,” the board said.

“To the contrary, we have asked our administrators to find other works that accomplish the same educational goals in a more age-appropriate fashion.

“We simply do not believe that this work is an appropriate text for our students to study.”

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