In her superb graphic novel The Property, Israeli author Rutu Modan writes of war’s devastating effects from the long view of multiple generations, even drawing upon the experiences of her ancestors in Poland. So it was especially gratifying for Modan that The Property won an Eisner Award for best new graphic album at Comic-Con International in San Diego on July 25.
“I am honored and happy to get the Eisner Award for my book,” Modan said from her home in Tel Aviv. “The last month in Israel is so depressing and stressful. It was wonderful to have, at last, a reason to be happy.”
Modan knows about trying to leaven the pain and grief of tragic conflict. In The Property, which was published last year, she creates a family comedy with the Holocaust as historic backdrop. The novel finds humor in the specificity of characters and their differing, somewhat veiled agendas – even as it paints in nuanced colors the scars of war.
“The Property is about people who were forced to give up their love and chance for happiness because of prejudice, fear and the violence of history,” Modan said. “When they meet, at last, it is too late for them, and retrospectively, it seems so unnecessary and such a waste.
“I hope we will have a chance in this messy area, where I happen to live and raise my children, to overcome our fears and violence and make peace with our neighbors and between ourselves,” Modan continued. “Somehow, I still believe it shouldn’t be that complicated.”
Modan, whose breakthrough book was Exit Wounds (2007), was shocked that the Eisner voters chose to recognize The Property.
“I didn’t believe I had a chance this time, so I convinced myself that prizes are not important to me,” she said. “But I (woke) up anyway, unconsciously, about the time of the ceremony in San Diego, and I didn’t dare turn on my computer until noon because I was afraid to see I didn’t win.”
“When I saw the email from my publisher, I jumped up yelling . . . and danced in the living room with my surprised son.”