Author and illustrator Art Spiegelman tells the true story of his father’s experience as a Jew during the holocaust in an absorbing graphic novel format. Spiegelman artistically represents different racial and social groups with different animals: Jews are drawn as mice, Nazis as cats, Americans as dogs, etc.
His father’s story of the holocaust is interspersed with the present day relationship Spiegleman has with his father, Vladek, and the respective women in their lives. Having these side stories helps the reader take in graphic details of the most horrific times in modern history. I know without these asides, I would have had to set the book down to let my conscious breathe.
Spegielman wants the reader to like and relate to Vladek, and finds himself torn with painting an accurate picture of his father and one that is not realistic, but more likable. Vladek in real life is the epitome of the stereotype of the misery old Jew, which Spiegelman doesn’t want to propagate, but ultimately decides to be true to his father’s character, no matter how flawed he sees it.
This is a very important book that deserves the attention it has received over the years. Maus is one of those classic books that everyone has always told me I just have to read. And now that I’ve finally read it, I’m telling you, you just have to read it! It’s really that powerful.
Review by Annica Stivers, CLP-West End