What makes a piece of art offensive differs from place to place and person to person. In some countries around the world, governments define what is considered offensive and forbid it from having a place in the market. Rarely does that label extend to Pulitzer-Prize-winning works such as Art Spiegelman’s MAUS, but the Russian Federation appears to have a different opinion.
Israeli news outlet Haaretz reported today that major bookstore chains have pulled the book, widely considered to be one of the greatest artistic indictments of fascism to ever see print, from shelves over fear of government raids due to the presence of the swastika symbol on the cover.
In December of 2014, Russia passed a law which bans Nazi propaganda, and includes censorship of Nazi symbolism and insignia.
Varvara Gornostayeva, the chief editor at Corpus, the book’s Moscow-based publisher, told French news agency AFP that “It was selling very well and nobody had ever sent us any official complaints. There is no Nazi propaganda in it – this is a book that should be on the shelves on Victory Day. It’s one of greatest anti-fascist books, with a deep and piercing message.