WMU selects 'Maus I: A Survivor's Tale' for 2015-16 book read

contact: Jeanne Baron
| WMU News
Image of the cover of the book Maus I.

All first-year students are required to read the book.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University is turning the spotlight on Art Spiegelman's graphic novel "Maus I: A Survivor's Tale," which in 1992 became the first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize and was twice nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

WMU has selected the work, subtitled "My Father Bleeds History," as the 2015-16 University Common Read.

All first-year students are expected to read the book. Members of the Kalamazoo community as well as all WMU students and employees are encouraged to read it this summer and participate in public activities that are being planned for the fall.

About the book

"Maus I" is part one of the story of Vladek Spielgelman, a Polish Jew who survived Hitler's Europe as well as Auschwitz, and Art Spielgelman, Vladek's cartoonist son and the novel's author.

Through "Maus," the younger Spielgelman tries to come to terms with his father, his father's terrifying story and history itself. It is told metaphorically through characters drawn as animals, with mice representing Jews, cats representing Germans and pigs representing Poles.

"A quiet triumph, moving and simple—impossible to describe accurately, and impossible to achieve in any medium but comics," a Washington Post reviewer wrote. Meanwhile, the Pulitzer Prize-and Oscar-winning cartoonist and writer Jules Feiffer described it as: "A remarkable work, awesome in its conception and execution...at one and the same time a novel, a documentary, a memoir and a comic book. Brilliant, just brilliant."

About the common read

The common read officially begins the first week in June, when new students arrive on campus for orientation. The First-Year Experience office will be staging activities around "Maus I" for incoming freshmen in late August during Fall Welcome as well as incorporating the book into First-Year Seminar coursework.

Waldo Library will have several copies of the work available on its bookshelves and a limited number of reading group kits for WMU common readers available at the Waldo Library Access Services desk by mid-June. Each kit will contain six copies of the book and a discussion guide.

For more information, visit libguides.wmich.edu/wmucommonread2015-16. Details about the book, reading kits, upcoming events and other aspects of this year's common read will be posted on the site throughout 2015-16 as they become available.

Questions about "Maus I" and sponsoring related events should be directed to Dr. Toni Woolfork-Barnes, director of First-Year Experience, at toni.woolfork-barnes@wmich.edu or (269) 387-2301. Questions about the common read website should be directed to Miranda Howard, head of technical services for University Libraries, at miranda.howard@wmich.edu or (269) 387-5166.

For more news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.

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