Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan

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Exit Wounds
By Rutu Modan
Drawn & Quarterly

Rutu ModanThere’s something that’s hard to get past here, as a western reader. To paraphrase and otherwise butcher a completely brilliant phrase, let’s refer to it as the banality of terror. It’s something that must eventually be adopted, in order to maintain one’s sanity in a place like Tel-Aviv.

You can see it in the eyes of the smiley-faced woman, behind the counter at the morgue, who happily tells a family member of the recently deceased that he can indeed get a video of the body, so long as he brings in his own blank VHS tape. And then there are the various characters throughout who correct the female lead, Numi, when she speaks of the suicide bombing in Hadera. Surely she means the one in Haifa.

The thing about life during wartime, particularly in the case of sustained conflicts, is that through it all, you have to find time to live. Events which, in a normal context, would almost certainly be deemed horrifying, must be lived with, lest they consume us, and for better or worse, humans are remarkably effective at adapting.


Exit Wounds is not a story about suicide bombing. Rather bombings are a piece in the patchwork background in a not altogether unfamiliar story about human relationships. The bombing in Hadera plays a crucial role in the story, bringing our two leads together, but despite causing the death of large character in both of their lives, it’s rarely subject to the kind of hyper-emotional approach we often see in films and literature dealing with the subject matter. Rather most emotion in the book stems out of interactions between people—family members, friends, and lovers.

Of course none of this is to suggest that Rutu Modan, a Tel-Aviv resident herself, tackles the subject with levity. Instead it lends an air of authenticity to those of us who are fortunate to not have to deal with such terrors day in and day out. Exit Wounds is a story about adapting to the unfortunate events that populate our lives, and learning to trust our fellow travelers along the way, a message perfectly, if not so subtly, illustrated by the book’s final panel.

–Brian Heater

No Comments to “Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan”

  1. James Lappin | October 8th, 2007 at 10:43 am

    Hi Brian
    I really enjoyed ‘exit wounds’. But can I quibble with your assertion that the suicide bombing caused the death of a large character in both of the lead characters lives’.

    I don’t want to give too much away, but that isn’t how I read the book!

    I like your review too. The book seems to be about abscence. Death is one form of abscence and bombing is one form of death. There are other forms of abscence. These other forms may not be as dramatic as a bombing, but they still have an affect on people’s lives.

    The most abiding image for me is the uneaten chicken soup

  2. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Oct. 9, 2007: Shuffering and Shmiling
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