Monday, June 11, 2007
Author: Rutu Modan
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Koby shares a taxi in Tel Aviv with his Aunt Ruth. Business is good, bus bombs mean that people use taxis more. Though with his Aunt and Uncle getting on, more and more of the work load is falling to Koby. One day, just as he is about to finish a shift, Koby is approached by Numi, a young soldier. She suggests that his father might have been one of the people killed in a recent bombing. But Koby hasn't seen his father in years and greets the suggestion with beligerance. Curiousity creeps in after the fact however, along with the realisation that Numi - a too tall, homely looking young woman - didn't approach him in an official capacity, but rather as his father's girlfriend. Thus they form an odd couple, the taxi driver making ends meet, and the neglected daughter of rich parents, setting out to establish whether a body burnt beyond recognition is Koby's father or not.
At the core of Exit Wounds is the relationship between Koby and Numi, how they fight against each other, before coming round to having a certain respect for each other. Mixed through this is the ever absent presence of Koby's father, a womaniser who often failed to deliver despite the best of intentions, and the lives that he has affected in the process. Along with that though, we come into contact with a contemporary Israel, dropped into the snapshots of life - from the mundane petitions to keep a bus station open or the invisible faces of immigrant labour, to the more harrowing, and the people who find their lives changed by a single devastating event like a bomb.
Rutu Modan has won a number of awards in her native Israel for Illustration, Children's Books and Cultural Excellence. Though as far as I am aware this is her first work in English, and her first full length "novel". Published in America by Drawn & Quarterly (a PDF preview of the book is available on their site), who approached Rutu in the first place; though this UK edition comes from Jonathan Cape.
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