Rutu Modan

Rutu Modan: Jamilti and Other Stories

51iHGIH37kL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_Short stories from Rutu Modan author of, The Property, Exit Wounds and  two on-line projects in the New York Times: a visual blog called Mixed Emotions and a serial that ran in the Times magazine called The Murder of the Terminal Patient.

There is a consistency of style in Modan’s storytelling and in her drawings, but at the same time you are taken into worlds so completely and so movingly that the emotions she elicits are strong.  these are early works, and so they don’t have the complexity or depth of the two novels.  In some ways these stories more than the full-length works have the psychological approach that Ruth Rendell brings to many of her stories.  People whose lives are not turning out the way they thought they would have to face the truth, but do so in a way that could be homicidal.  Not all Modan’s character follow through, some just move to uncertainty or depression. These are worth reading to see more of the range of Modan’s work, but I would start with the novels. Thank you, Drawn and Quarterly for giving us this insight into a major author’s early work.

Rutu Modan: The Property

51pxfRvYO3LRutu Modan’s latest novel is about a grandmother and her granddaughter traveling from Israel to Poland–the reverse journey. The journey is to find out about a building that belongs to the grandmother, but was abandoned during World War II.  After a crowded plane ride surrounded by a party teens visiting holocaust sites, the two women settle in their hotel, and the grandmother becomes evasive. It turns out that she has another motive for visiting.  It is about her former life in Poland and less about the property.In trying to find out from local lawyers and acquaintances what the situation is, Regina falls for a young Polish tour guide who leads visits to Jewish Warsaw. Modan’s romantic stories are generally awkward full of tension, argument and uncertainty–in other words real.  Both these woman are seen trying to find love between themselves as Jewesses and Polish men.  The tensions are multiplied because of this. Modan’s story telling is gripping and her drawings are cartoonish but windows into strong feelings, emotions and real engagement with what it means to be Jewish in the world from the perspective of someone who lives the tensions of life in Israel.

Rutu Modan is the author of Exit Wounds, a book of shorter pieces called Jamilti and Other Stories. as well as two on-line projects in the New York Times: a visual blog called Mixed Emotions and a serial that ran in the Times magazine called The Murder of the Terminal Patient.

Rutu Modan: Exit Wounds

exit  I was looking for Jewish graphic novels, and came across the work of Israeli graphic novelist Rutu Modan, who is certainly one of the best graphic storytellers of basically realistic stories. Modan, born in Tel Aviv, in 1966, has three major books for adults published by the amazing Drawn and Quarterly.

This one, The Property and a book of shorter pieces called Jamilti and Other Stories. as well as two on-line projects in the New York Times: a visual blog called Mixed Emotions and a serial that ran in the Times magazine called The Murder of the Terminal Patient.

Exit Woulds is the story of a cab driver, Koby and the young soldier Numi who tells him some news about a bus bombing in Hadera.  The news prompts Koby into action and the two of them investigate the bombing and the identity of one particular victim.  Their awkward friendship takes them into the world of the witnesses of the bombing who all have different motives for telling them or not telling what they need to know. And beyond into both of their lives, where both of them are on the outside of their families.  They become closer than friends, but only edge into the realm of a more romantic relationship which neither of them can quite allow themselves to fully enter.  It is good to read stories from war torn places that take the context, and make me feel (in my ignorance of what it is really like) that life goes on.  That people live and die, have family and relationship troubles, that human scale stories stream through the life of the place. As Numi and Koby come to terms iwth what they discover and what how they see each other, Modan is brave enough leaving the end unresolved with Koby stuck up a tree, and Numi encouraging him to jump.

Koby: “I need a lader”
Numi: “I don’t have a ladder. Just jump.”

Numi: “I’ll catch you.”
Koby: “You can’t.”
Numi: “Do you have a better idea?”
In the penultimate frame she holds out her arms.  In the final frame, we see he has jumped.