Maus II | book review


Title: Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began
Author/Creator: Art Spiegelman
Illustrator: Art Spiegelman
Series: Maus
Publisher: Pantheon Books
Publication Date: August 1991
Genre(s): Graphic novel, Memoir, Historical non-fiction

Opening Line:

Summer vacation. Francoise and I were staying with friends in Vermont.

The Synopsis

Art resumes recording his father’s history as a survivor of the Holocaust, picking up where he left off in Maus I. Vlacek tells Art of his experience in the concentration camps, including the notorious Auschwitz. Meanwhile, in the present, Vladek must deal with Mala’s betrayal and his failing health, while Art deals with his new success and his depression.

The Plot

Like it’s predecessor, Maus II is a story within a story — we have Vladek and Art is the present, and we have Vladek’s story of his past. I found Maus II to be a lot more interesting than the first novel. When I read about the Holocaust, I’m expecting to read about the camps. Though it is good to have background information and a story leading up to the camps, Maus I was only that background story. I enjoyed finally reading about Vladek and Anja’s experiences in the camps and how they managed to somehow stay alive. This novel made me again realize how lucky one had to be to survive the Holocaust. Vladek and Anja were very lucky. They experienced torture and horror, but they survived (to an extent).

The Characters

I liked seeing more into Art’s character. I liked that he included the bit with his therapist to show how the Holocaust is affecting him even though he was born afterwards. I also liked to see more of his relationship with his wife; seems to me like they fight a lot. Much of the present conversations involve arguments — Art and Francoise, Art and Vladek, Vladek and Mala, etc. Oh, and I liked seeing how the Holocaust affected Vladek, too, how he literally cannot waste anything, especially food. It’s horrible to see how deeply his experience in the camps changed him.

Mala: Sigh. I’d rather kill myself than live through all that… everything Vladek went through. It’s a miracle he survived.

Art: Uh-huh. But in some ways he didn’t survive.

The Writing

Being a graphic novel, it’s hard to judge the writing. Like I mentioned in my review of the first novel, Art recorded his father’s story and, I assume, used as many direct quotes as possible for the novel. The Jewish dialect is a little hard to read sometimes, but it’s doable. The illustrations, I must mention again, are great. They are very simplistic and all in black and white. I really enjoyed the novel, but rather than being a sequel, I think it should have just been including in the first.

4.5 star

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