Today I read a terrific graphic novel Unterzakhn written and illustrated by Leela Corman (usually I refer to the ones I read as comic books, but this is truly a graphic novel). It’s the story of two sisters growing up on the lower east side of New York in the early 20th Century. I was initially drawn to it because of the proximity of its setting to the setting of my novel, but what I really loved about it was the moral ambiguity inherent in the story. One sister goes to work for a “woman’s doctor” and the other works in a burlesque theater/brothel as the story blurs the line between autonomy and responsibility. The characters behave in surprising and unexpected ways and while I found the ending a bit unsatisfactory and sudden, it’s filled with riches and a wonderful sense of period.
And for some extra fun, check out this Tumblr page with Yiddish glossary cards.