Enrichment Arts & Culture

‘Maus’ author ‘baffled’ by Tennessee school board decision to ban book

Story at a glance

  • “Maus” author Art Spiegelman was “baffled” to find out a Tennessee school board recently voted to remove his Pulitzer Prize-wining graphic novel from their curriculum.
  • On Jan. 10, the McMinn County School Board unanimously voted to remove the book due to its language and nudity.
  • The nude woman depicted in the book is of Spiegelman’s own mother after she committed suicide.

“Maus” author Art Spiegelman was taken aback by the news that a Tennessee school board voted to ban his novel. 

In his graphic novel, Spiegelman tells the story of his Jewish parents’ experiences during the Holocaust and depicts members of the Jewish community as mice and the Nazis as cats. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992.  

On Jan. 10, the McMinn County School Board’s 10-person panel unanimously voted to drop “Maus” from its eighth grade English language arts curriculum due to the book’s language and nudity.  


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“Maus” also touches on the lives of Spiegelman’s parents after the end of World War II and delves into his mother’s struggle with depression before and after her time in a concentration camp. The nude woman depicted in the book is the dead body of Spiegelman’s mother who committed suicide in 1968.  

“I’m kind of baffled by this,” Spiegelman, 73, told CNBC. “It’s leaving me with my jaw open, like, ‘What?’”  

Spiegelman only learned that the book had been remove from the curriculum via Twitter a day before International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the outlet added.  

“I’ve met so many young people who … have learned things from my book,” said Spiegelman, adding he believed the move was “Orwellian.”  

The vote comes amid recent pushes to stop schools from using books on racism and sexuality in their classes. 


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