Within weeks of a Tennessee school district moving to ban “Maus,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel depicting the horrors of the Holocaust, readers are propelling it to the top of best seller lists more than 30 years after it was first published.
The hardcover edition of “The Complete Maus,” which includes parts one and two of Art Spiegelman’s opus, is topping Amazon’s list of best-selling books, holding the No. 1 and No. 2 slots at different times Monday morning. Parts one and two of “Maus” hold the third and ninth spots on the best sellers list respectively.
(As of publication time, “Maus” has not appeared on the Amazon Charts, the site’s weekly list of books that are read and sold the most through the platform. The best seller list CNN is citing is updated hourly.)
On January 10, the McMinn County, Tennessee, Board of Education removed “Maus” from the eighth-grade English language arts curriculum, citing “rough, objectionable language” and a drawing of a nude woman.
“Maus,” which was initially serialized and then published in two volumes in 1986 and 1992, is a blend of historical fiction and memoir that follows Spiegelman’s Jewish parents in 1940s Poland, from their early experiences of anti-Semitism to their internment in Auschwitz. It depicts Jewish people as mice and Nazis as cats.
Spiegelman told CNN last week he was still trying to “wrap [his] brain around” the ban.
“I think they’re so myopic in their focus and they’re so afraid of what’s implied and having to defend the decision to teach ‘Maus’ as part of the curriculum that it led to this kind of daffily myopic response,” he said on CNN’s “New Day.”
Banning books from being taught in schools can lead readers to seek out the book in droves. Angie Thomas, author of “The Hate U Give,” an acclaimed novel about a Black teen who witnesses her childhood best friend’s killing at the hands of police, said last year that after a Texas school district banned the novel from schools in 2017, residents bought “tens of thousands of copies in a week in that same district.”
Controversy can also prompt readers to revisit other works by an author. After Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced six books by the iconic children’s author would not longer be published because of their offensive content, a slew of Dr. Seuss titles soared to the top of Amazon’s best sellers list. (Notably, none of the discontinued books were among the best sellers.)
CNN’s Chris Boyette contributed to this report.