A spread from Art Spiegelman's Maus.


Are you familiar with the term, Holo-kitsch? It was dubbed by Art Spiegelman of Maus fame. I just learned that he planned to publish Maus as a single volume rather than two (volume I: 1986; volume II: 1991). Apparently he had been publishing installments of Maus, his comic-strip Holocaust memoir, in his magazine Raw, and found out one day that Steven Spielberg was set to release an animated film, An American Tail, based on the same concept — a family of Jewish mice in Russia escaping to the new world.

To beat Spielberg to the punch — Spiegelman suspected plagiarism — he published the first half of the book right away and volume II five years later.

Anyway, back to my original point. Spiegelman thinks the Holocaust is written about and talked about and performed about in excess, and he coined the phrase Holo-kitsch to reflect that belief. In an article in the Sunday Times of London, he says, “By the time Maus came out, there was a literature, and it’s grown ever since, that I dubbed Holo -kitsch. There’s a really strong sentimental streak that runs through a lot of this stuff and it makes me shudder.”

I’ve also heard it referred to as Holocaust Fatigue. And I get it. Sometimes it’s just too much, especially when it’s all coming at you at once. To me, there’s only fatigue if the book, film, art (fill-in-the-blank) is cliche or uninspired. But there’s a lot out there that’s new and distinct (like my book-to-be, of course!) that will bring fresh voices and shed new ideas about the Holocaust and its aftermath more than 60 years later. Holocaust Fatigue may be stemming from the fact that it’s the first and second generations who have done the bulk of the creating, writing, performing. Perhaps it’s the third generation of survivors (sometimes referred to as 3G) that needs to break the staleness. That’s what I think. What about you?