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Russia Removes Art Spiegelman’s 'Maus' From Bookstores

Carolyn Kellogg
Los Angeles Times (TNS)

Maus, the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel by Art Spiegelman, has been withdrawn from Moscow bookstores.

Russian law banning Nazi propaganda has succeeded in removing one of the greatest anti-Nazi chronicles from its bookshelves.

“Maus,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel by Art Spiegelman, has been withdrawn from Moscow bookstores. In the book, which tells Spiegelman’s family’s story, Jews are portrayed as mice and Germans as cats. Its cover features a mouse couple huddled below a swastika bearing a Hitler/cat emblem.

The anti-Nazi propaganda law was passed in December. Since then, authorities have reportedly raided shops that carry Nazi memorabilia.

“I don’t think ‘Maus’ was the intended target for this, obviously,” Spiegelman told the Guardian. “But I think [the law] had an intentional effect of squelching freedom of expression in Russia. The whole goal seems to make anybody in the expression business skittish.”

“Maus” was written as serial for Raw, a comics anthology. It was published in the U.S. as a book by Pantheon in 1986, with its continuation, “Maus II,” following in 1991. It has since been released in an omnibus edition, anniversary edition, and meta edition that included a DVD about the making of the work. Its was not published in Russia, however, until 2013.

Varvara Gornostayeva, editor of Speigelman’s Russian publisher Corpus, said: “There is no Nazi propaganda in it. This is a book that should be on the shelves on Victory Day.” May 9 marks the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Allies in Europe in World War II.

“It’s a real shame because this is a book about memory,” Spiegelman said. “We don’t want cultures to erase memory.”

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