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‘Maus’ Among Latest Titles Banned in Some American School Districts

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This illustration photo taken in Los Angeles, California on January 27, 2022 shows a person holding the graphic novel "Maus" by Art Spiegelman. (Photo by MARO SIRANOSIAN/AFP via Getty Images)

A Tennessee school board last week voted to remove the Pulitzer-prize winning graphic novel Maus from an 8th grade course on the Holocaust. And that’s just one of many examples of recent bans instituted by parents, activists, school boards and lawmakers. According to the American Library Association, it has seen an “unprecedented” number of book bans in the last year. But unlike previous waves of book bannings, this latest wave has a different tone and tenor; bans are often targeted at books that center on the experience of diverse characters or are written by authors of color. Politicians like Texas Governor Greg Abbott are also using bans as campaign platforms to galvanize right wing voters. And while many bans are advocated by conservatives, there are also efforts by parents, like those in a Burbank, California school district, to remove books like “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “Of Mice and Men” from the curriculum because of the racist depictions in those books. We’ll look at why book banning is spreading across the country and what might be done to reverse the trend.

Guests:

Viet Thanh Nguyen, author, "The Sympathizer: A Novel" - which recently won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and its sequel "The Committed," which was published in 2021. He is also the Aerol Arnold Chair of English and a professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity, and Comparative Literature at USC. He wrote the recent New York Times op-ed "My Young Mind Was Disturbed by a Book. It Changed My Life."

Suzanne Nossel, chief executive officer, PEN America

Ashley Hope Perez, author of "Out of Darkness," a young adult novel that has been banned and placed on book ban lists to be challenged. She is also an associate professor of comparative literature at Ohio State University and a former high school English teacher.

Elizabeth Harris, reporter, New York Times. Harris covers books and publishing for the newspaper.

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