EXIT WOUNDS in World Literature Today

“Exit Wounds” / World Literature Today / Armando Celayo / January 1, 2008

In her first full-length graphic novel, award-winning Israeli illustrator and comic book artist Rutu Modan tells the story of an apathetic young man who, while searching for his estranged father, discovers some kind of meaning in his life. Koby Franco, an Israeli taxi driver living and working with his elderly aunt and uncle, receives word one day that his father might have been killed in a recent suicide bombing in Hadera. Numi, his father's young and insecure lover, asks Koby to take a blood test to identify the body. Because the body has been recently buried, Koby and Numi search the train station where the suicide bombing took place, questioning anybody who might have been there if they had seen Koby's father. Their investigation leads them to discover that Koby's father carried on multiple affairs, something that Koby already suspected but Numi was unaware of. As the trail leading to Koby's father becomes colder and colder, Koby and Numi become close to each other. It isn't until they go their separate ways that Koby, going back to his mundane life, realizes that his feelings for Numi are genuine.

While the story might not be the most original, it comes alive in the subtle details in the background of the story and art. Through these two aspects of the graphic novel, Modan is able to portray life in Israel as an ongoing effort to combat terrorism, and its potential to paralyze society, with an unrelenting spirit to survive. A shopkeeper at a train station where the explosion went off is chipper in his persistent petitioning for independent shops; a small cafe stays open in the same station, even after the owner loses her husband in the bombing. Terrorism seems to be a common (yet tragic) occurrence: the bombing in Hadera is often confused with another bombing that happened a day later in Haifa. Life never stops moving in Israel, but death is nevertheless remembered by the vigils placed at each bombing site.

Modan's art is clean and minimal, in its own way supplementing the controlled atmosphere of Israel. While the story in the foreground might not be brilliant, it is Rutu Modan's journalistic eye for detail and her sympathy for her characters that recommends Exit Wounds in its attempt to understand life in Israel.

Modan is able to portray life in Israel as an ongoing effort to combat terrorism, and its potential to paralyze society, with an unrelenting spirit to survive.

In her first full-length graphic novel, award-winning Israeli illustrator and comic book artist Rutu Modan tells the story of an apathetic young man who, while searching for his estranged father, discovers some kind of meaning in his life. Through these two aspects of the graphic novel, Modan is able to portray life in Israel as an ongoing effort to combat terrorism, and its potential to paralyze society, with an unrelenting spirit to survive.

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