Modan has written Exit Wounds (about the aftermath of a suicide attack in Tel Aviv, and the interwoven stories – reminiscent of Amores Perros perhaps, but in Israeli-Palestinian key) and Jamilti – a set of short stories of life in Israel. Together, Exit Wounds and Jamilti had already convinced me that she is one of the best graphic novel writers/drafts(wo)men alive – the stories are interwoven with the graphics in such exquisite and precise ways, the stories themselves saying so much about life (in Israel, yes, but really life itself). I was completely sure when I picked The Property from a table in the Strand that this would be a great read.
It was, indeed. In a way even better than the two previous books. The story unfolds in Poland, in Warsaw, between Regina Segal, an elderly Israeli woman and her granddaughter Mica. Both fly from Tel Aviv, the initial and original “mission in Warsaw” being to recover property – an apartment the family used to own in Warsaw before the war.
So the story starts, but very soon a much more complex web of connections with former Warsaw, the former story of Regina (with Roman Górski, a Polish boy back then) and various other situations arise. You need to read the story to unfold it.
Along the way, places of Warsaw (I city I do not know physically, but has already crossed my paths in conversation many times) appear, as in a dream: Grzybowska Street, the day of Zaduszki (so similar to Día de los Muertos in Mexico, so strange to imagine in Poland!), Warsaw’s Fotoplastikon, where you can apparently now see lost images of Saski Park and many other photographs of the city that disappeared, and where apparently before the war you could see images of… Sweden.
This other page has various nice images of the story. I particularly liked the images of 1939 on the Vistula River, with young Roman and Regina. Or those happening in Powązki, the cemetery, on the night of Zaduszki (the cover of the book above is that).
Thank you, Rutu Modan, for having written (and drafted) such a nice book!