The Boxer

Reinhard Kleist, Author
Reinhard Kleist. Abrams/SelfMadeHero, $22.95 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-906838-77-5
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This graphic novel, which tells the true story of Holocaust survivor Hertzko “Harry” Haft, leaves a deep impression. Haft is separated from his family in Nazi-occupied Poland, sent to a series of concentration camps, and subjected to unimaginable brutality, including being forced by the SS to fight in a terrifying series of boxing matches. Readers need only observe Haft’s chilling physical transformation to see how remarkable his story of survival is. Despite the sheer inhumanity of his circumstances, Haft is driven by an indomitable will, fueled by the conviction that Leah, the woman he loves, is also somehow managing to survive the Nazi genocide. When his pugilistic skills lead him to a career as a boxer in America after the war, Haft can only hope that his rising success—which includes a shot at the legendary boxer, Rocky Marciano—attracts Leah’s attention and ultimately reunites them. Although Kleist (Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness) spares the reader nothing in depicting one of the darkest periods in human history, he always has the unconquerable spirit of his protagonist clearly in focus. Drawn in stark black and white panels, characterized by a visceral sharpness of lines and angles, Kleist’s narrative is set in a perfect visual landscape. It’s safe to say this is an early candidate for graphic novel of the year honors. (Mar.)
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