Maus: Art Spiegelman’s Book on Holocaust Banned in Tennessee

banned books

A Tennessee school board’s recent ban on Art Spiegelman’s Maus is the conclusion to a story we’ve already seen. A group of adults, whether it be parents or teachers, finds a book’s content to be so offensive that they call for it to be pulled from shelves, taken off syllabi or even banned entirely from schools.

In the case of Maus, which details Spiegelman’s father’s experience of the Holocaust, it was “inappropriate language and nudity” that caused a Tennessee school board to remove the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel from its eighth-grade curriculum.

But many have criticized its removal as just another case in a trend of schools targeting books that teach the history of oppression. Books such as Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” and Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis” have topped the ALA’s lists of most challenged books throughout the years, with more recent examples including anti-racist books such as Angie Thomas’s “The Hate U Give” and Ibram X. Kendi’s “Stamped.”

While the Tennessee school board has yet to retract their decision on “Maus,” a firestorm on social media shot the book to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list since the controversy arose last week.

Below, check out more banned and challenged books throughout history worth reading.

Maus by Art Spiegelman


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Courtesy of Amazon


“Maus” details the cruelties that Spiegelman’s father Vladek faced throughout the Holocaust, from the years leading up to World War II through his own liberation from Auschwitz. Through serialized conversations with his son, Vladek discloses the starvation and abuse he endured at the hands of Nazis, and the resourcefulness he tapped into in order to survive. Some parts of the book show Jews depicted as mice, stripped naked in concentration camps (nudity being one cause for the ban).

The book does contains gruesome details and grisly imagery — like any truthful telling of the Holocaust does.

During an interview on Holocaust Remembrance Day following the ban, Spiegelman said, “This is disturbing imagery. But you know what? It’s disturbing history.”