Jamilti, by Rutu Modan. Published September 2008 by Drawn and Quarterly.
Click here to buy from your local IndieBound-affiliated independent bookseller.
Jamilti, though released as a follow-up to Rutu Modan's much-praised earlier release Exit Wounds, is a collection of short stories in comic form that actually precedes it. The stories range from the political to the fanciful- there are stories about suicide bombers and the impact of political violence on daily life in Israel, as well as its impact on hearts and psyches, and there are more stories more like fairy tales, about obsessive love and what happens when what you love is only an idea of a person, instead of a person.
Being earlier work, and being in some places intentionally abstracted and even crude, the art is not as polished as that in Exit Wounds; people's bodies and faces are sometimes warped or exaggerated, often to the point of absurdity. For me though, her people looked more like real people- real bodies, real expressions- than photographs would, because they capture a certain emotional chaos and anarchy. Sometimes it's as if their feelings are spilling out through their rumpled clothing and loose, flabby bodies. There is also a fair amount of violence, especially in the title story, about a suicide bombing, whose bittersweet ending was wholly unexpected and absolutely perfect.
Overall I enjoyed the book quite a bit, at least once I got used to Modan's rougher visual style. Another one for the grownups, Jamilti has a visual language all its own and storytelling at different times humorous, sad, ironic and just plain weird. It's not for everyone, but it's a little treasure.
P.S., you can read my review of Exit Wounds here.