Monday, December 7, 2009

Graphic Novel Monday: Klezmer; Book One- Tales from the Wild East, by Joann Sfar

Klezmer; Book One- Tales of the Wild East, by Joann Sfar. Published 2006 by First Second. Graphica. Translated from the French.

Joann Sfar's graphic novel Klezmer: Tales of the Wild East is a charming and funny book with a hopeful message. Set in pre-war Europe amid the shtetls of Eastern Europe, two groups of musicians meet independently and have some comic adventures; when they meet onstage, hilarity ensues.

Yaacov, a runaway yeshiva boy, meets Vincenzo, who was kicked out of his yeshiva for stealing. Yaacov takes a banjo he finds from some dead musicians. The two boys meet Tshokola, a Gypsy musician, and proposes starting a band. Elsewhere, Noah Davidovich, the sole survivor of a group of massacred klezmer musicians, takes up with Chava, a runaway singer grown weary of the confines of shtetl life. He plays harmonica and together they head to Odessa to seek their fortune. When the two groups meet, the Gypsy Tshokola surprises everyone with a unique "Jewish" story, and love is in the air.

Klezmer is a delight from start to finish, with Sfar's trademark wit and extroverted and colorful artwork. If you've read The Rabbi's Cat or its sequel you'll already be familiar with what to expect, but the rest of you will be in for a treat if you decide to make this your first venture into Sfar's exuberant, joyful world. The occasional profanity and sexual references make it appropriate for teens and older; most of Sfar's work is not appropriate for children, as delightful as it truly is. A fun comic romp and window into a lost world, Klezmer is a terrific book.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review from the publisher.