Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel Maus is being removed from Moscow’s bookstores, several sources have reported. According to Echo of Moscow radio station, employees at Dom Knigi, one of Moscow’s largest bookstores, have removed Maus from the shelves because of the swastika on the cover, but promised to return them after Victory Day (9 May).
“The swastika on the cover is an obvious grotesque,” Varvara Gornostayeva, editor at the book’s Russian publisher Corpus, told Afisha on Friday. “It’s compulsory reading for schoolchildren in many European countries — precisely because of its antifascist nature. So I can’t regard this as anything else than utter idiocy,” she said.
Maus was the first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1992, among numerous other awards. It is a semi-fictionalised account of Spiegelman’s father’s experiences as a Polish Jew during the Holocaust. In the novel, humans of different ethnicities are represented as animals: Jews as mice, Germans as cats and non-Jewish Poles as pigs. It was met with widespread critical acclaim and has been translated into over 30 different languages, including Russian.
Earlier in April it was reported that Moscow’s authorities had confiscated toy soldiers in SS uniforms from Detsky Mir, Moscow’s recently reopened central toy store, and opened a criminal case under article 282 (“Incitement of national, racial or religious enmity”).