Home Graphic novel The reason why the complete Maus became a forbidden book

The reason why the complete Maus became a forbidden book

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If you’re unfamiliar, “Maus” is a two-part graphic novel by Art Spiegelman that depicts the author’s tumultuous relationship with his father, intertwined with his father’s experiences as a Polish Jew during the Holocaust (via Barnes & Nobles). Released entirely as “The Complete Maus”, the non-fiction work won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 and continues to be the first and only graphic novel to do so, per Tower.

Marked as a book for ages 12+ on BookTrustthe work depicts Jews as mice and Nazis as cats, hence the novel’s German title “Maus” (via Amazon). Although the novel’s content is dark because it depicts a genocidal historical event, it is arguably written and viewed in an digestible way for middle schoolers, allowing them to learn and empathize with a first-person narrative of the Holocaust.

Despite the merit of the work, a school district in Tennessee voted to ban “Maus” in January 2022, citing inappropriate language, violence, and the presence of a naked mouse as their reasoning (via PBS).

At the McMinn County School Board meeting, a member said, “It shows people hanging. It shows them killing children. Why is the education system promoting this stuff? It’s not neither wise nor healthy.”

Although the book accurately describes a momentous historical event, the school board found it inappropriate for their college curriculum.