cover image We Won’t See Auschwitz

We Won’t See Auschwitz

Jérémie Dres, trans. by Edward Gauvin. Abrams/SelfMadeHero, $22.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-90683-863-8

The book, an English translation of Dres’s Italian graphic novel of the same name, details the author’s journey to Poland with his brother, Martin, to trace their Jewish roots after the death of their grandmother. Told in a clean journalistic style that prizes accuracy over adventure, the volume provides a good history lesson but lacks emotional impact. The book gets off to a promising start, describing the humorous and touching relationship between Dres and his grandmother. It then delves meticulously into the brothers’ journey to Poland and the surprises they find there regarding their Jewish heritage. As the title suggests, the brothers choose not to visit Auschwitz and instead focus on the current state of Jews and Judaism in modern-day Poland. It’s a smart decision to avoid this already-well-trodden territory, but ultimately the story’s a bit dry. It’s easy to understand why the trip has affected the creator personally, but the book doesn’t entirely succeed in engaging readers. Simple, pared-down b&w visuals are a good match for the subject matter, and the more active and emotionally resonant scenes, like the one describing the discovery of the grave sites of the brothers’ ancestors, are far superior to those featuring talking heads, which make up the bulk of the book. (Sept.)