Jerusalem: A Family Portrait

Boaz Yakin, Author, Nick Bertozzi, Illustrator
Boaz Yakin and Nick Beretozzi. MacMillan/First Second, $24.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-59643-575-9
Reviewed on: 02/18/2013
Release date: 04/16/2013
This grim and relentless comic by filmmaker Yakin was inspired by tales his Israeli father told him. It follows the families of two estranged Israeli brothers—focusing primarily on the sons of those brothers—as the many wars involving Jerusalem rage around them. They suffer life, death, and everything in between, all while searching for their own identities within a passionate love for the place they call home. The book draws lovely if depressing parallels between these families and the Arabs and Jews, as they fight for control of Jerusalem. While the troubles of the Middle East are familiar , it’s impossible not to get drawn in to the plight of these characters. The youngest sons, first cousins Motti and Jonathan, are perhaps the sole bright spots and also the most tragic aspect of this work. Best friends regardless of their fathers’ estrangement, they are eventually pulled apart as they grow up, and as Jerusalem continues to pull itself apart. The way Motti and Jonathan’s story ends is somehow both shocking and inevitable. Bertozzi’s art, in grimly appropriate shades of black, white, and grey, sets a fitting tone for a story filled with unflinchingly honest violence. (Apr.)