Today marks the 70th anniversary of Auschwitz. I want to mark the day in my own way and I want to do so by introducing you to Art Spiegelman's graphic novels Maus and Maus II. The writer himself is a son of a Holocaust survivor and he writes his family story. He writers a wonderful story. I think that it shouldn't be a narrative to be disregarded because literature has the ability to change and impact the imagination. I want to share my experience of this book because it had a huge impact on me when I read it. It wasn't like reading an article or hearing the news. It was about the small detail and the feelings of the characters.
The book depicts the Jews as mice and it's not hard to see why he does so - the living conditions they have to endure, they have to be quiet/secretive and they are prey not predator. The Nazi's are depicted as cats and this already places them in the position of predator without the involvement of language at all.
One of the most powerful moments in the book is The Prisoner of Hell. The style changes and this is the first moment in the book that the character's become human. This is the moment when Anna Zylberberg, Artie's mum commits suicide. For me this was a very intense moment. Artie speech bubble says, "In 1968 my mother killed herself...She left no note." This hit me really hard. After all the suffering she had suffered at the camps and having made it to liberation but only to kill herself in the end. The second part of the quote evokes so much emotion, so much meaning - of course after everything she had seen and been through she wouldn't leave a note - it was just all to much in the end. The absent note just signifies that.
This book shows us, the reader the impact of the Holocaust not just on the survivor but the son of a survivor and how he's life has been affected. In this graphic novel he himself comes to terms with what has happened to his family and coming to terms with his own history. He has a difficult and somewhat estranged relationship with his dad and how to tries to get on with his life and how he tries to bring his past and present together.
Spiegelman's graphic novel does a brilliant job. This novel is aimed at a young adult audience but it reaches far beyond this. It is a book for all ages. I think it important to remember the Holocaust and this book does not only this but it enables readers from a young age to learn about Auschwitz and understand. It is through education that that readers can learn about this moment in history and make sure that it is not forgotten.
If you have not read this book I urge you to do so.
I know that finances can be a problem but there are accessible ways to get this book - for example going to the library, trying to see if your library has it available as an ebook, half price books (usa), if worldofbooks on ebay (uk) that sell 2nd hand books as well.