By Art Spiegelman

In my comics and sequential art class, this book was mentioned a lot as not only being an amazing graphic novel, but also an example of all that comics could be.

I had never read it so I was quiet- not sure that a bunch of mice and cats could effectively convey the horrors of the Holocaust. As I have said a gabillion times before- just because a book has hype doesn’t mean that it actually deserves it.

Now that I have turned the last page, I understand the hype completely.

Maus is amazing. In the book, a retelling of his father’s experience as a Jew in Nazi Poland and- eventually, as a prisoner in Auschwitz, Jews are portrayed as mice, Germans as cats, and Poles as pigs. This might seem problematic- as if suggesting that the three are inherently different species but the effect is spectacular as it plays on the cultural values at the time and accentuates the tension of trying to hide. The mice have to don masks and tuck their tails

The illustrations further the narrative in ways only possible through comics. I had assumed (WRONGLY) that, because it was in comic form, that it would not be as brutal as typical Holocaust books. Needless to say, there were several sections where I could not look away from images, even as tears filled my eyes.

Spiegelman is so honest in telling his father’s story and in telling the process of learning his father’s story. He never romanticizes his father. He never paints his father as a hero. He never hides his father’s flaws and faults- even acknowledging that his father comes across as a Jewish stereotype. It is honest and real.

Not only did I love this book (and can’t wait to read the second book), I fully plan to incorporate it into my literature courses in the future.

Read it.

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