Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

"The Jews are undoubtedly a race, but they are not human."
Adolf Hitler

Probably the most powerful narrative I've ever read about the Holocaust, the Pulitzer-Prize winning The Complete Maus should be required reading in high school. It should be required reading before entering the Holocaust museum in D.C.

Written and illustrated in graphic novel form, Art Spiegelman has related the history of his Jewish parents and their horrific experiences during WWII with tiny pictures. Pictures and words that impact your very soul.

Told through the eyes of himself, the child of survivors, and his father, Vladek Spiegelman, Maus begins, and is interspersed with, an account of his relationship with his father in Vladek's later years, and then travels back in time, to Poland in the 1930's as his father remembers in great detail what happened to his mother, his brother, and the rest of his family during the war.

I cried.
It was gut-wrenching.
It was horrific.
It was interesting and historical.
When discussing his current relationship with his father, it was even funny.

To look at its cover, you'd have no idea of the epic beneath. A comic book about the Holocaust, who would've thought? The perfect outlet for adults and especially children to learn about one of the most tragic events in world history.

In an age where the term "Nazi" is thrown around like the word "the" nowadays, a book like this brings back the harsh reality of the insurmountable error of using a term that caused such misery and suffering to millions upon millions of people, and not just them, but their descendants.

This book is a triumph to the human spirit and what we are capable of enduring and surviving as a human race. Probably the best book I've read so far this year.
5 stars


TheBlackSheep said...

Good review. I've heard about this before, but am afraid I couldn't face it. I did a Holocaust Literature class at uni and it gave me nightmares for months. I'm not sure I could do that again. I do agree though, there are some works you shouldn't get out of high school without having read them.

Lula O said...

Thanks, and it was hard to read at times, but not as hard as I thought it would be. The comic form lessons the blow somewhat, but it's still highly effective, and very emotional aside from the fact this is a story about mice and cats.

Taking a class on it though, that would be harsh.