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1001 Maus
Added on 08th August 2020

Author and Illustrator Art Spiegelman
First published 1980
Publisher Pantheon Books/Penguin Random House

An unflinching graphic novel about the Holocaust in which people are drawn with animal heads and tails.

Story

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale is a graphic novel by American cartoonist Art Spiegelman that tells the story of his father’s experiences of the Holocaust.

The story flicks between two times: Art interviewing his grumpy elderly father in New York City in the late 1970s; and his father Vladek’s memories, in which people are drawn with animal heads and tails: Jews as mice, Nazis as cats and Poles as pigs.

Vladek’s account covers the 1930s to the end of the Second World War - his youth and marriage in Poland, life in the ghetto, attempted escape and imprisonment in Auschwitz concentration camp until its liberation.

The second edition of the book includes Art’s emotional reaction to the unexpected success of the book, and his father’s further reflections on the end of the War. Vladek died in 1982 before the book was completed.

Why we chose it

Maus is an unflinching personal account of the Holocaust, made accessible by the black and white illustrations, and more bearable by the use of animal characters.

It was an early graphic novel and the first to win the Pulitzer Prize, usually awarded for journalism. Although much admired and studied, Maus remains controversial, with some critics arguing that the animal characters reduce the horror of the human atrocities.

Where it came from

Art Spiegelman was born in Sweden in 1948 to Polish Holocaust survivors Vladek and Anja, who migrated to the US three years later. Interested in comics from a young age, he became a professional artist aged 16.

Maus began as a series of comic strip in Raw magazine, which were combined into a graphic novel. Following rave reviews of the comic strip Spiegelman found a publisher and, the book became an international success.

Spiegelman, who insists that he is more of a writer than an artist, passionately believes that comics mimic how our brains work and deserve a greater readership.

Where it went next

Spiegelman has rejected many offers to adapt Maus for film or television.

Added on 08th August 2020

Author and Illustrator Art Spiegelman
First published 1980
Publisher Pantheon Books/Penguin Random House