Exit Wounds

April 9, 2009

a451165f22c05bRutu Modan (translation by Noah Stollman)
Drawn & Quarterly, 2008

Exit Wounds is the first full-length graphic novel by Rutu Modan, and it’s received lots of attention. Set in modern-day Tel Aviv, it tells the story of Koby, a young taxi driver contacted by a woman concerning the disappearance of his father. Faced with the possibility of his father’s death during a recent suicide bombing, Koby is moved to confront years of anger and disappointment while reluctantly assisting Numi in a search for answers to the mystery.

What at first seems like an open-and-shut case grows into a scavenger hunt for clues, as Koby and Numi follow the trail of the man they thought they knew (or, in Koby’s case, thought he didn’t know). What they discover leads to more disappointment, and unexpectedly brings them closer together. Both are haunted, however, by their inability to offer forgiveness for the pain they’ve suffered.

Artistically, Modan’s work finds the perfect balance between simplicity and complexity, creating depth without resorting to sentimentality, and depicting the horrors of life in Israel without emotional manipulation. Reading praise for Exit Wounds, one is repeatedly primed to encounter subtlety and nuance, and those are indeed Modan’s strengths. There are no fireworks or symphonies in this work. Instead Modan quietly works towards a picture of deterioration and sadness, and tells a story of deep-rooted anger and stubbornness in the face of forgiveness. Reviewed by Marianne Perron, 2009.

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