Sales of Holocaust Graphic Novel “Maus” Rise After Tennessee School Bans It

What that means is more complicated than it seems

"Maus" cover
Tthe graphic novel "Maus" by Art Spiegelman.

Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel Maus has, since its initial publication, been lauded for countless things — its harrowing depiction of the Holocaust, its inventiveness with the form and its expansion of what readers could expect from comics. (To say nothing of Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize.) It’s been in the news more recently after a Tennessee school board voted to ban it for reasons that Spiegelman himself described as “daffily myopic.”

The outcry surrounding the school board’s decision has prompted countless messages of support — and heightened awareness of Maus, with many writers taking to social media to share their admiration for it. That’s had a somewhat predictable effect. As The Guardian reports, Spiegelman’s book has become an Amazon best seller since the controversy was first announced.

The article notes that, early in the day on Monday, various editions of Maus were bestsellers in multiple categories, including overall bestsellers, literary graphic novels and World War II history.

What does it mean for Maus to be selling significantly more copies in the wake of this controversy? In an interview with Slate, Emily Knox — author of Book Banning in 21st-Century America — offered a nuanced analysis of the news. “In the Tennessee case, probably Maus will move up in sales on Amazon for a while,” Knox said. “But that doesn’t mean that the kids in Tennessee can see this incredible book.”

“I already have a copy of Maus. I would probably buy it for myself, as a person who can afford to buy books, and I would make sure that my local library has it,” Knox continued. “But that doesn’t really help the kid in Tennessee who wants to learn more about the Holocaust.” It’s a sobering reminder of the full scope of this issue.

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