cover image Victory Parade

Victory Parade

Leela Corman. Schocken, $29 (176p) ISBN 978-0-8052-4344-4

Corman (Unterzakhn) weaves mythic resonance into a spiky, tragicomic tale of two Jewish women holding down the Brooklyn home front during WWII. While Rose’s stoic husband fights overseas, she works at a factory to support their young daughter, Eleanor—and off hours slips into a bittersweet tryst with a wounded veteran. Meanwhile, Ruth, a German refugee orphan in her early adulthood who has been taken in by Rose, is haunted by flashbacks and has trouble keeping a job, until she’s given a chance to channel her rage as a lady wrestler. (She has “the look of one who has good reason to smash something,” the manager who discovers her notes approvingly.) Though Ruth, already discriminated against for her accent, is less than thrilled to be recast as “Ruthless Ruby, the Killer Kraut,” she gets some of the best lines in Corman’s snappy dialogue, which mixes in Yiddish throughout: “When I hear that someone’s died, I get a little jealous,” she whispers as she hugs her heaving opponents in the ring. “I gotta tell ya... I hate the sound of my own heart beating.” Corman’s liquid, painterly art blends historical realism with fairy tale themes and pregnant imagery: waking dreams of water and dismembered body parts, a mermaid covered in ocean trash, panels based on the work of Nazi-banned “degenerate” artists like Otto Dix, and transcendent sequences that depict the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp and other haunted moments of WWII. The finest work yet from an always formidable artist, this is a revelatory meditation on the cost of survival. Agent: Elizabeth Wales, Wales Literary. (Apr.)