Author Viet Thanh Nguyen weighs in on banned books debate

A Tennessee county school board agreed to remove Art Spiegelman’s book “Maus” from its eighth-grade curriculum for its “rough, objectionable language” and “unnecessary use of profanity and nudity and its depiction of violence and suicide.” The Pulitzer prize-winning graphic novel tells the story of Spiegelman’s parents in the Holocaust, depicting Jewish people as mice and Nazis as cats. Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen thinks the school board has it all wrong. In a New York Times opinion piece, he wrote: “Banning is an act of fear — the fear of dangerous and contagious ideas. The best, and perhaps most dangerous, books deliver these ideas in something just as troubling and infectious: a good story.” Marco Werman speaks to Viet Thanh Nguyen about how reading disturbing books as a kid changed his life — for the better.

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