Comic Shop Giving Away Copies of Graphic Novel ‘Maus’ After Ban

The award-winning graphic novel was the first to receive the Pulitzer Prize.  It tells the story of the Holocaust.  Tennessee school authorities voted to ban its use because of minor use of bad language and nudity.  The decision has inspired campaigns to give away the book for free.

On 10 January 2022, the McMinn County school authority in Tennessee voted to ban the popular graphic novel in its schools.  They said that the book used “rough language”, “unnecessary profanity” (eight words, including ‘damn’), a small drawing of a nude woman drawn as a mouse, and mentions of murder, violence, and suicide.  They also said that teenage students were not old enough to read the book and that it did not represent the values of their community.

It was the latest of many bans of books around the United States by conservative movements that do not want students to have access to controversial books.  Issues that are frequently banned are racism, gender and equality, although they also dislike stories about rebellious teens.  Pulin Modi, director of ParentsTogether, says: 

 “More and more, conservative schools are trying to ban books about our complicated social history. We need to let our children learn, grow, and gain the knowledge to create a better future.”

Art Spiegelman, author of “Maus”, a biographical graphic novel about the Holocaust

Art Spiegelman  wrote “Maus” between 1980 and 1991, and it became the first graphic novel to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1992.  Spiegelman tells the true story of his parents, who were Jewish survivors of Nazi death camps during the Second War War.  He uses a post-modernist style, with animal heads for the characters (he drew Jews with mouse heads, and Germans with cat heads).  This unreal depiction in comics was an effective way to talk about the horror and madness of the Holocaust, and for many years, teens have read “Maus” to learn about it. 

Excerpt from “Maus”

Now teens and activists are protesting the book ban. People have raised money to distribute free copies of “Maus” to anyone who asks for one.  What’s more, teens are looking at lists of banned books for their next read.  Teen Olivia Pituch says:

“I went through the list of the banned books and I thought they sounded great. My mom had a ton of them, I got others from random people. It’s funny, the ban made me more curious to see what they were about.”

Students protesting a recent book ban in Central York School District.

Nirvana Comics, in Knoxville Tennessee, has received more than $110,000 in donations to help give away copies of “Maus”.  Rich Davis, the owner, says that everybody should read “Maus”:

“If we don’t show them what the Holocaust was, the next generation may think it wasn’t so bad, and then the next generation may think the Holocaust didn’t happen, and then the next generation is repeating the Holocaust.”

Days after its ban in Tennessee, “Maus” was listed as the most sold graphic novel on, and the 7th most sold book in the U.S.  Are book bans making reading cool again for teens?

Quiz: Did you understand this article? Here is a Cambridge-style QUIZ.


“Maus” Wikipedia entry:

Other books than have been banned:

“Maus” is the 7th most sold book on Amazon after ban

Conservative parents unintentionally make reading cool again:

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