Once Upon a Time in France

Fabien Nury and Sylvain Vallée, trans. from the French by Ivanka Hahnenberger. Dead Reckoning, $29.95 (368p) ISBN 978-1-68247471-6
The true story of Joseph Joanovici, an illiterate Romanian Jewish refugee turned millionaire who collaborated with the Nazis, is given a rollicking cinematic treatment in this graphic novel from Nury (The Death of Stalin). Continuing his focus on unusual corners of history, Nury winds everything from the French Resistance to post-Dreyfuss anti-Semitism and the ethics of war profiteering into this busy and freely fictionalized narrative. First seen as a child hiding from a Cossack pogrom in 1905, Joanovici later appears in 1947 Paris, being chased by domestic intelligence. The time-hopping narrative flickers back to the ’30s, when Joanovici is a hustling wheeler-dealer making his fortune as a scrap-metal magnate; then to the middle of the war, when he does business with the Nazis in order to survive. Joanovici also works with the Resistance and saves Jews from the camps. But in a cruel twist, after the war he is reviled as a collaborator and hunted by an obsessed judge. The polished, noirish art provides a high dramatic sheen, but Nury’s overly knotted plotting requires too much untangling. His critique of postwar hypocrisy is dulled by a flat characterization of Joanovici, whose bravery comes across as mere stubbornness. Despite a somewhat shallow take on motivations, Nury vividly illustrates how wartime leaves both victims and victimizers with dirty hands. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/26/2019
Release date: 09/01/2019
Genre: Comics
Open Ebook - 978-1-68247-483-9
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