ARC Review: A Bunch of Jews (and other stuff) – Max B. Perlson & Trina Robbins

A Bunch of Jews
Book cover: Different everyday life scenes from the book that have been coloured in.

A Bunch of Jews (A Minyen Yidn) is a collection of stories written in Yiddish in the 1930s adapted to an English graphic novel by Trina Robbins and a collection of artists including Willy Mendes, Steve Leialoha, Shary Flenniken, Eve Furchgott, Miriam Katin, Miriam Libicki, Sarah Glidden, Anne Timmons, Robert Triptow, Jen Vaughn, Elizabeth Watasin, Caryn Leschen, Joan Steacy, Ken Steacy, and Terry Laban. These are stories of jealous schoolteachers, yearning husbands, loyal pets, and all the emotional moments of friends and neighbours that make up a community. Touching, funny, and heartfelt tributes to Jewish life in the early 1900s in Europe and USA.

I received an ARC of A Bunch of Jews (and other stuff) from Netgalley. I was interested in seeing a collection of stories was going to be conveyed in graphic novel style. I also liked the idea of reading about Jewish everyday life.

This book is #ownvoices for Jewish representation.

The author’s note is fascinating, as she explains what the book her father, Perlson, had written meant to her when she was younger and what it means to her now. I thought it was very touching that this was a father-daughter collaboration through time.

The illustrations are quite minimalistic in this book. I thought they would be colourful due to the cover, however they are in greyscale. Thus it took me some time to not feel disappointed. However, the simplicity of the illustrations ended up winning me over. It didn’t distract from the story told along the panels. Each story is illustrated by a different illustrator, hence I think most people will find an illustrating style that they enjoy seeing.

The glimpses of everyday life in Duboy, Brooklyn and the Lower East Side were amazing. It felt like I was reading a written equivalent of the old candid photos that show people going about their life decades ago.

One thing I would have liked to see more of, were stories in which the main character was not a man. However, since this is an adaptation of an older book, I understand that such stories are not in the graphic novel.

This was a beautifully-illustrated book and the stories are all interesting.There were some stories that I enjoyed more than others, but all in all, I had a wonderful reading experience. I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

4 stars

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