by Rutu Modan
This book is a slice of different life — unless you are living in Israel and are somewhat accustomed to news of suicide bombings, that is. It is also a quite recognizable slice of life if you’ve ever had a not-too-thrilling job, oddness in your family, a difficult relationship with a parent, or been at a loss trying to understand relationships.
Modan’s story is less dramatic than it seems from the cover images and the setup: there’s been a suicide bombing and someone’s father may be a victim. Most of what would be spectacle in the story happens not in the panels — the explosions aren’t in real time, the most common connections are missed connections — but is unseen. It’s a less dramatic unravelling of events: who women are to the young, taxi-driving Koby Franco; who they are/were to his father; how Koby fits in the pieces of past and present with his dad. The dailiness matters, which is probably why it isn’t as extreme as you suspect it will be. Day after day usually isn’t extreme, or it ceases to be extreme because it is ordinary.
Drawn & Quarterly did a great job, the matte pages work well with the color drawings, and it opens easily with no risk of losing bits of story in the gutter. (The book itself is the shape and size of hardcover novel.) The art is flat and simplified, but still realistic.
Surprisingly, I don’t have strong feelings about the book. It’s well done, it’s interesting, I liked it, but didn’t love it and can’t quite put my finger on why.