The two volumes of Maus are Art Spiegelman’s attempts to document the struggles of his parents before and during the Second World War, as well as his not always harmonious relationship with his elderly father. The framing narrative shows Art interviewing his father Vladek about his recollections of the time before and during the war, as well as trying to deal with his temperamental parent, despite their many differences. The illustrations are famous and the subject matter is, of course, very worthy.
So why didn’t I love it? It’s a graphic novel depiction of the persecution of the Polish Jews and their trials during the Holocaust, which also deals with the difficult aftermath and the struggle of the survivors’ offspring to understand the trials of their parents. Art wasn’t born until after the war, always extremely aware of his elder brother, who died, even as his parents tried to save him by sending him away. His mother Anja seems to have been mentally fragile, even before the war, and committed suicide. His father Vladek remarried, but seems to have made strange demands of both his new wife Mala and his son, and doesn’t exactly seem like the easiest of people to live with or relate to.
Full review here.