Maus, Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust, shot to the top of Amazon’s best-sellers list after a Tennessee school district banned it from being taught in classrooms last week.
On Sunday, the complete edition of Maus retained the #1 spot on the Amazon books best sellers list, and individual editions for parts one and two were also in the retailer’s top 10.
Sales soared in recent days after the McMinn County Board of Education unanimously voted to remove Maus from its eighth grade curriculum due to concerns about language and depictions of nudity. The book, which was published beginning in 1986, tells the story of Spiegelman’s parents’ experience during the Holocaust and their imprisonment in Auschwitz.
It won the Pulitzer Prize’s Special Award in Letters in 1992.
According to the meeting minutes, the board cited “rough, objectionable language” used in the book for the ban. One member complained that a section of the story where Spiegelman’s mother dies by suicide was too graphic.
“We don’t need this stuff to teach kids history,” Mike Cochran, one of the school board members, said during the Jan. 10 meeting. “We can teach them history and we can teach them graphic history. We can tell them exactly what happened, but we don’t need all the nakedness and all the other stuff.”
Although Spiegelman said he was concerned about the vote, he agreed that the imagery used in the graphic novel was disturbing.
“But you know what?” he told The New York Times in an interview, “It’s disturbing history.”
The U.S. Holocaust Museum has described Maus as a vital tool to educate people about history, saying graphic novels can “inspire students to think critically about the past and their own roles and responsibilities today.”
It’s unclear if the school board plans to replace Maus with another book about the Holocaust in its curriculum.
The decision to ban the graphic novel comes amid an ongoing spate of book bans across the U.S., with conservative groups moving to pull works that address slavery, racism and LGBTQ issues, among others. Banned books include Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.