18 July 2011

Review: Auschwitz by Pascal Croci

In stark and sometimes horrifying black-and-white drawings, Pascal Croci's Auschwitz tells the story that none of us should ever forget. Based on interviews with concentration camp survivors, Croci created the characters Cessia and Kazik, who unburden themselves of the memories they've held on to for a half a century.

When we remember episodes in our lives, especially events we've buried deep and have tried to forget entirely, we don't recall things in a coherent story line. And thus Croci's style is that of chronological memories that are not necessarily smoothly joined. Instead of being off-putting, this device adds an authenticity to the graphic novel.

Although Cessia and Kazik are fictional characters, the events told in the novel happened and are based on interviews and historical documentation. The horrors of the gas chamber and murder are true, and the book is emotionally difficult to read. This is not a story about heroes or finding happy endings.

Despite the importance and power of Auschwitz, the novel is not without flaws. The ending was confusing, and the separate stories of husband and wife were not ultimately linked. Thus the book somehow felt distance, despite the moving artwork. Click the scan to enlarge the image; I chose one of the more innocuous pages, so don't hesitate to take a look.

The backmatter of the novel, including an in-depth interview with the author, details about his sources, and information about the drawing process, however, is fascinating and shouldn't be missed.

Give it to me quickly: A half century after liberation, an elderly couple recalls their time in Auschwitz; a graphic novel based on eyewitness accounts.

Auschwitz at Powell's
Auschwitz at Book Depository
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Published by Abrams, 2004
ISBN-13: 9780810948310
YTD: 67
Source: Giveaway win (see review policy)
Rating: B-
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Beth Hoffman 7/18/11, 9:45 AM  

Such a devastating and shameful time in the history of the world. Though I know this graphic novel isn't for me, I imagine its drawings pack a powerful wallop.

Terrific review!

Zibilee 7/18/11, 10:16 AM  

This does sounds pretty powerful, and I imagine that the illustrations give the story a lot more punch. Not sure that this one is for me, though I do know someone who would love it. Thanks for sharing some of the artwork with us.

booksaremyboyfriends 7/18/11, 10:22 AM  

I really want to read this, but I have to get prepped, MAUS took the piss out of me, need to be ready for this!

Martha@Hey, I want to read that 7/18/11, 11:21 AM  

This is such and important subject and I'm glad there are alternate types of novels in order to tell the story. I don't think this is a book for me but it's good to know it's reaching people. It's too bad there were so story flaws but I'm glad it still worked.

Pam (@iwriteinbooks) 7/18/11, 11:48 AM  

Wow, this sounds really intense. I've read a lot of WWII stories but never in graphic novel format.

Anna 7/18/11, 1:30 PM  

I have yet to read a graphic novel, so I'm intrigued by this one. It sounds very moving. I've linked to your review on War Through the Generations.

bermudaonion 7/18/11, 2:53 PM  

I love that they're writing graphic novels about subjects like this because it gets that important story out to an even broader audience.

Sandy Nawrot 7/19/11, 9:21 AM  

You know I am incapable of resisting neither a WWII novel or a graphic novel, so despite the flaws I'm going to see if I can hunt this down at the library.

BookGeek 7/19/11, 11:50 AM  

I think I'd love this because I really enjoyed reading the graphic novel called "Maus". Thanks for the review!

Kailana 7/19/11, 7:37 PM  

This sounds like something I should read. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 7/20/11, 8:51 PM  

Nice that the backstory (sources) and extra material are included. Despite the flaws you mention, I wonder if it might make a good accessible resource in schools?

Aths 7/24/11, 7:34 AM  

I hadn't heard of this one before. Thanks for reviewing it. I love graphic novels, so this is one that I will read.

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