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The Property h/c

The Property h/c back

Rutu Modan


Page 45 Review by Jonathan

“Grandma? Please open up!
“Give me a sign that you're all right.
“If you don't make a sound I'll have to break the door down.
“You won't be comfortable sleeping in the shower.

Elderly Jewish battleaxe Regina is heading to Warsaw on a mission. In tow are her granddaughter Mica and the immensely obsequious and irritating Avram, ostensibly a friend of the family. The mission in question is to reclaim the titular property, seized from the family by the Nazis after they fled Poland during World War Two. Well, that's what she's told everyone, but in fact Regina also has a secret mission too, to try and find out what happened to her sweetheart. Who, unbeknownst to most of the family, including Mica, was the father of her child, Mica's recently deceased father.

It would be fair, and just about politically correct for me as a Gentile, to observe Rutu Modan has certainly made hilarious use of more than a few stereotypical (allegedly) Jewish traits in this work. The opening sequence at the airport where Regina argues with the young security guard about not being allowed to take her bottle of water through security made me smile, and certainly leaves us in no doubt Regina is a tough old boot who is used to steamrollering her way over all and sundry and leaving people trembling in her wake.

So, arriving in Warsaw, it's a puzzle to Mica, and also Avram who has his own agenda in sticking uncomfortably close to the two ladies, that Regina seems strangely reluctant to get in touch with the Polish legal contact, Attorney Popowski. Enter Tomasz, the handsome local tour guide, to provide a bit of romantic interest for Mica, and the plot starts to thicken more quickly than a pan of gravy that's had a whole sack of cornflower tipped into it. Kosher, obviously.

I absolutely loved THE PROPERTY. I already knew Rutu had a great sense of humour from JAMILTI AND OTHER STORIES and the ability to weave an engrossing tale from EXIT WOUNDS, but this neatly combines both to produce a gentle farce which is also a heart warming yarn. Her art style for those unfamiliar is best described as an expressive Hergé with a distinctly Mediterranean colour palette. Even in chilly Warsaw, there are plenty of vibrant colours brightening up just about every panel. The first two pages, a gorgeous two-page spread of a lake in Sweden, a location of great significance to Regina, even though she's never been there personally, are the perfect visual equivalent of an amuse bouche to get us salivating for the main course to follow. Highly recommended.
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