This was a really interesting well done graphic memoir about two brothers who travel from Paris, to Poland, to see where their Grandmother lived, and examine their Jewish heritage. Dres talks to a lot of different people and gets different perspectives on what it means to be Jewish in Poland. He provides plenty of historical context for the reader. It’s clearly drawn, full of expressive buildings and expressive faces, giving the character of the city and conversation.
Jewish roots are one of the things I’m not sure how to write about. I’m an agnostic, who was raised attending a radical methodist church, but my great grandmother came over from Holland because of Anti-Semitism. I was named after my grandmother, who was named Bessie as an Americanized version of Betje, named after her aunt, who died in Auschwitz. This is a part of my family history, but not a piece that I’m close to. I think I’m Jewish enough for someone who would have a problem with that, but not enough to claim it for myself.
One aspect of the book was that a lot of young Poles are starting to uncover Jewish heritage that had been neglected or denied. Now, in an environment where it’s more acceptable to acknowledge such things, they’re starting to explore what that means. I feel like this isn’t a thing we talk about when we’re analysing identity, and I think that’s a shame. Even if we know where we come from, what that mean to us can change. It really resonated for me, especially with the world right now.
It’s a good little book that I picked up from the library on a whim, and really got a lot out of.