Summary: In modern-day Tel Aviv, a young man, Koby Franco, receives an urgent phone call from a female soldier. Learning that his estranged father may have been a victim of a suicide bombing in Hadera, Koby reluctantly joins the soldier in searching for clues. His death would certainly explain his empty apartment and disconnected phone line. As Koby tries to unravel the mystery of his father’s death, he finds himself not only piecing together the last few months of his father’s life, but his entire identity. With thin, precise lines and luscious watercolors, Modan creates a portrait of modern Israel, a place where sudden death mingles with the slow dissolution of family ties.
Exit Wounds is the North American graphic novel debut from one of Israel’s best-known cartoonists, Rutu Modan. She has received several awards in Israel and abroad, including the Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem four times, Young Artist of the Year by the Israel Ministry of Culture and is a chosen artist of the Israel Cultural Excellence Foundation. Exit Wounds was the winner of the 2008 Eisner award for Best Graphic Album -New and was nominated for the televised 2007 Quill Awards in the graphic novel category.
Exit Wounds, by Rutu Modan 7.25
‘Exit Wounds’ is an Eisner-winning graphic novel by Israeli author Rutu Modan. It tells the story of Koby, a Tel Aviv taxi driver who is one day accosted by a mysterious woman seeking his help – to find his father, whom he himself hasn’t seen in years. At first unconcerned, given his father’s predilection for disappearing without a trace, she begins to convince him that he was likely one of the victims of a bombing attack.
Together, Koby and Numi seek to piece together clues that might locate the womanizing septuagenarian (he had left Koby’s mother for another woman and is currently Numi’s lover) and, in the process, develop a relationship of trust. During those weeks, not only do they learn more about the old man’s life, but they learn about each other and themselves; it’s an experience that permits them to move on from their inner pain.
Frankly, I wasn’t that moved by ‘Exit Wounds’ (or ‘Close-far’ in Hebrew): Koby was emotionally distant (aside for bursts of anger), Numi was too awkward, and the case of the missing father/lover wasn’t compelling to me. Perhaps its impact was lost on me because the old man simply didn’t seem like someone who could be missed: he was extremely selfish and inconsiderate of the people who cared about him.
Also, perhaps if I had lived in an environment where people can be blown up randomly due to incessant warring it might have reached me in some fashion. All I could think was that I was grateful not to live there and have to deal with a constant sense of dread and ritual loss of loved ones. But it barely registered since the characters all seem so blasé or shell-shocked (or both) that it held no emotional resonance.
Clearly, I’m one of the rare few, as evidence by the critical acclaim and fan response it has received.
Frankly, the thing I enjoyed the most was the art. And this may sound peculiar, but, I liked the backgrounds more than the foregrounds. They were so full of detail and I liked the way that they were coloured. In my estimation, Modan’s style is better suited to this. I almost wish that two different artists had worked on this one, separating the tasks so that different styles were used, creating two-tiered artwork.
Be that as it may, ‘Exit Wounds’ will likely appeal to certain types of readers. Granted, I was not that type, but it’s nonetheless a quality book and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. I can find no real fault in it: the characters feel real, the dialogues are good, the plot flows well, the layouts suit the work, …etc. It just didn’t resonate with me, which I suspect is no fault of its own. I may even give Modan another look.