Maus is a classic graphic novel based on the author’s experience of interviewing his father Vladek about his experiences during World War II, when he and Art Spiegelman’s mother Anya, who subsequently committed suicide, were interned in a concentration camp. What makes Maus an unmissable empathy book- aside from its brilliant, deceptively simple graphics and the comparative rarity of something that makes you see the Holocaust in an entirely new light- is the struggle that Art has with his difficult and evasive father, whose values frequently clash with the more bohemian outlook of Art and his wife, and whose penny-pinching ways and hypochondria frequently bring Art into fits of chain-smoking, barely suppressed rage. But Art still tries to reach out to his father, and not just for his own sake. The book itself is an act of rehabilitation and resurrection for Vladek, though it’s hard to see this practical, resourceful and open-hearted young man and the damage done to him by horrors that Art admits he probably couldn’t endure himself. At times, Art’s neuroses are hard to take, but he is as unsparing with himself as he is with others- more so, perhaps- and the two-part graphic novel continues to haunt and dominate the entire corpus of Spiegelman’s work, both a blessing and a curse that he clearly wishes he could be rid of. This squeamishness and desire to leave the story alone are present in the original strips that inspired Maus, and the story’s tension derives from the writer’s simultaneous desire to understand his father and to run away before the story he grew up with causes him and his children any more pain than they need to suffer. It’s an exceptional story, but it’s also recognisable to anyone with parents.