I purchased Maus a long time ago, back when I had grand plans to do a series of reviews on Pulitzer Prize winning novels that, sadly, never really got off the ground. It seemed like an important inclusion--after all, it is the only graphic novel to have ever won the prestigious and coveted award. Anyway, I re-read Maus recently and decided that it is certainly worth talking about.
In the 1980s Art Spiegelman, an American comic book artist, came up with the idea of interviewing his father about his experiences of the Holocaust. What transpired was a deeply personal story about a Jewish man living in Poland who suffered persecution at every turn, the loss of friends and immediate family members (including his oldest son,) and who managed to survive both by intelligence and a lot of luck. The story was then made into a graphic novel, Maus, featuring Jews as Mice, Nazis as Cats, Poles as Pigs and Americans as Dogs. This novel was eventually followed by a sequel Maus Volume II.
The brilliance of Maus is that it tells the story of the Holocaust in a very personal way. This is one man's story. One ordinary man, who found himself in the most horrific of circumstances. Despite the odds, he managed to survive. The novel also highlights the after-effects of living through such an ordeal.
This is one of many books that I have read in the past year that I really do think should be required reading for high school students. Maus is an upfront, honest and personal account of one of the most horrific events of the twentieth century.