World War II books are always a pain in the heart to read. I usually avoid them before because of the heartaches they give but lately I became fascinated with all forms of literature that discusses that era. I couldn’t believe that there was a graphic novel that discusses World War II. Maus #1 surpassed my expectations.
Maus, I: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History (Maus #1) is a comic book by Art Spiegel first published in 1991. This won numerous awards including the Pulitzer Prize for Letters Award in 1992 (I read this without knowing that). I later learned that this was the first graphic novel to win the Pulitzer Prize.
The book is a true story. The book is about Art himself and his father’s experiences during World War II. Set in New York, in the book he tries to write a story about what his parents had gone through during the war and he does that by constantly visiting his father. This is Art trying to come to terms with his father, Vladek, and his father’s story and how they were able to survive that period. And this is also a story of Vladek trying to come to terms with his life and his new wife Mala. Both by the way has not yet got over with the death of Anja, Vladek’s first wife and Art’s mother. They talked about the happenings before the war started, how life seems to be so normal at one point then instantly changed the next day. It also discussed how his parent meet and how their love story blossomed. How one day they were so well-off then the next day they can’t even buy a loaf to eat. It then discussed how they were able to survive despite how fate played with them and their family. The ending was a cliffhanger as it ended with them ending at Auschwitz concentration camp where the gas chambers are. The story goes back and forth from past to present.
(photo grabbed from the web)
History is one of my favorite subject in highschool, and it is only one of the reasons why I took Political Science as my course when I get into college. Reading this made me realize how studying history can be so much of fun. I am satisfied how the author was able to deliver the message and the story by way of a graphic novel. The story was presented with all the facts in each event present. In the book Jews are rats, Poles as pigs and Nazis as cats. How clever can that be. Nazis chasing Jews. Cats chasing rats. But of course, in the books, they act as humans. Being a graphic novel, I believe that became usesful and practical in differentiating the characters who speaks and those that the main characters are meeting.
The art on the book is not that commendable but I could pass that one. When I read a graphic novel, I first look at the graphics of the book that I’ll read but I gave this book a try as the theme is something that I am interested with. After reading a couple of pages, I no longer did mind the graphics as the story gripped me. I never thought that a graphic novel would have this depth. The book has that effect that will move its readers. side form being a book about Holocaust it also explored the topic between relationships of fathers to their sons.
How it story on the book was retold was lovely. I like how the book came with no pretenses of being a feel good book. The book became true to itself by portraying the scenes in a very raw and realistic way. How life is always a struggle for survival and how we must always, to the best of our abilities, understand things even if it is hard. The characters were portrayed as normal people in normal situations.
Despite discussing a very broad topic, this novel delivered its message well to its readers. It is very neat and to the point. This book also showed the power of graphic novels in telling a serious story in depth.
After finishing the book, this solidified my disgust for the people that started the Holocaust. I know that they have their reasons but I find those reasons baseless. The story of Holocaust has already been retold countless times but it’s shine doesn’t seem to fade. For me, reading a Holocaust book is a form of respect to the people who suffered and died during those times, a form of saying that we remember them, and a reminder to us that those things happened, we should learn from it and avoid that kind of thing from happening again.
Maus is a unique retelling of a Holocaust story. I recommend it but be sure that when you read this first volume you should have the send book ready. 🙂 (I haven’t read the second book yet but I was told that it s heart-wrenching in a way that no one will expect.)