Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me

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Overview

In Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me, one of the final graphic memoirs from the man who defined the genre, Harvey Pekar explores what it means to be Jewish and what Israel means to the Jews. Pekar’s mother was a Zionist by way of politics, his father by way of faith, and he inevitably grew up a staunch supporter of Israel. But as he became attuned to the wider world, Pekar began to question his parents’ most fundamental beliefs.

This book is the full account of that ...

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Overview

In Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me, one of the final graphic memoirs from the man who defined the genre, Harvey Pekar explores what it means to be Jewish and what Israel means to the Jews. Pekar’s mother was a Zionist by way of politics, his father by way of faith, and he inevitably grew up a staunch supporter of Israel. But as he became attuned to the wider world, Pekar began to question his parents’ most fundamental beliefs.

This book is the full account of that questioning. Over the course of a single day in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, Pekar and the illustrator JT Waldman wrestle with the mythologies passed down to them, weaving a personal and historical odyssey of uncommon wit and power. With an epilogue written by Joyce Brabner, Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me is an es-

sential book for fans of Harvey Pekar and anyone interested in the past and future of the Jewish state.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[Pekar’s] message here is important—that a good Jew asks tough questions, that a history of oppression requires us to be more conscious of the oppressed.”

David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times

“This posthumous publication reflects the seminal graphic memoirist at his edgy best.”

Kirkus (starred review)

“[T]his posthumous work by Pekar functions as a multipronged exploration of religious, political, and personal histories and is all the richer for it . . . A sweet and simple epilogue by Pekar’s widow, Joyce Brabner, provides the perfect capstone.”

Publishers Weekly

“This is not only Pekar’s greatest work, but probably the most powerful use of his talent for plainly speaking truth to power and ignorance. JT Waldman masterfully captures the wry innocence of Harvey’s interrogation while still celebrating the subtle contours of modern American Jewishness.”

Douglas Rushkoff, author of Life Inc. and Program or Be Programmed

“A fascinating history of the so-called Promised Land—as seen through the eyes of an estranged Jew from Cleveland. Brimming with classic Pekar asides and details, the book sheds light on a subject often obscured by heat. JT Waldman’s evocative artwork combines down-to-earth American Splendor–style illustrations with motifs inspired by everything from mythology and Islamic art to illuminated manuscripts and Chagall. I never got to say goodbye to Harvey, but reading this book was like having a final conversation with him.”

Josh Neufeld, American Splendor artist, and author and artist of A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge

“Pekar peppers accounts of perpetual persecution with poignant autobiographical anecdotes in this concise, compelling, and sure-to-be controversial graphic history of the Jewish people and the state of Israel. JT Waldman’s art, juxtaposing realism with ancient styles, rocking exquisite mosaics and elaborate medieval and Middle Eastern design flourishes, is nothing less than a majestic tour de Schwartz.”

Jeff Newelt, Heeb Magazine comics editor, and editor of Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland

Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me is Harvey Pekar’s final exploration of his conflict over the history of Israel, as illuminated by JT Waldman’s protean art. This is their Jewish Book of Hours.”

Dean Haspiel, artist of The Quitter and Cuba: My Revolution

“One part history lesson, one part autobiography, and all Harvey Pekar, Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me is an insightful look at one of the burning topics of our time. With Pekar’s scholarship and humor and JT Waldman’s stylistically varied art, this graphic book is visually entertaining and highly informative.”

Peter Kuper, artist of The Metamorphosis

Publishers Weekly
Instead of the single-minded polemic that the title promises, this posthumous work by Pekar functions as a multipronged exploration of religious, political, and personal histories and is all the richer for it. Pekar structures his narrative as a long-running bull session with his collaborator, artist Waldman (Megillat Esther), as they amble around Pekar’s hometown of Cleveland. While walking through a cavernous used bookstore or grabbing food at an Italian grocery, they explore his parents’ very passionate but unusual Zionism (Pekar’s mother was a stridently nonworshipping Marxist while his father was highly religious), the history of the Jewish people and the creation of the state of Israel, and Pekar’s own evolving feelings about that country. Starting off as an unalloyed champion of the new Jewish homeland (he was a schoolboy during the War of Independence and grew up along with the young country), Pekar later becomes troubled by the growth of religious fundamentalism in Israel, West Bank settlements, and what he saw as destructive military policies. A sweet and simple epilogue by Pekar’s widow, Joyce Brabner, provides the perfect capstone, noting how she planned a funeral that was properly Jewish and yet appropriately nonreligious. (July)
Kirkus Reviews
This posthumous publication reflects the seminal graphic memoirist at his edgy best. From the grave, the pugnacious Pekar (Huntington, West Virginia "On the Fly," 2011) is still issuing challenges and picking fights. But the handsome hardback publication and the masterful illustration by Waldman (Megillat Esther, 2006) confer a respectful legitimacy that shows how far the genre Pekar helped spawn has advanced since his early comic-book narratives. The tone is quintessential Pekar, pulling no punches, while the focus extends beyond the purely personal to the history of the Jewish people and the formation and essence of Israel. Both of his parents were ardent Zionists, but the author was not. The story begins with a visit by the narrator and the artist to a huge used bookstore in his native Cleveland and ends with them doing more library research. In between, it encompasses centuries and continents against a backdrop of Jewish history (with appropriate flourishes and framing from the artist as the tale moves through Roman and Muslim periods), interspersed with the tale of Pekar's experiences in Hebrew school, his initiation into the leftist politics of the 1960s, his disillusionment with Israel as an oppressor, and his empathy with Arabs who were seen as the enemy. "Israelis mark this as a war of independence," he says of the triumph he initially celebrated. "Palestinians call it the great catastrophe." Pekar deepens the discussion through conversations with the illustrator, who lived for a couple of years in Israel (where Pekar had once attempted to move, but he received no encouragement from the Israeli consulate). Proudly Jewish but increasingly skeptical of Israel's moral authority, Pekar makes no claim to expertise on Middle Eastern relations: "What do I know? I make comic books and write about jazz," he admits. "I do know the difference between right and wrong, though." Even if other posthumous work follows, it likely won't be any richer than this.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809074044
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 7/1/2014
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 779,806
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Harvey Pekar is best known for his graphic autobiography, American Splendor, which was based on his long-running comic-book series and was adapted into a film of the same name. He died in 2010. JT Waldman is an artist, interactive designer, and comic-book creator. He is the author and illustrator of the graphic novel Megillat Esther. He lives in Philadelphia. Joyce Brabner is an award-winning author of graphic books. She frequently collaborated with her late husband, Harvey Pekar, on his American Splendor series. She lives in Cleveland.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2013

    Very informative, well researched, and fair study of the Israel

    Very informative, well researched, and fair study of the Israel of our (Pekar's) generation. Read it for a much less biased look at the subject than one might expect. Keep an open mind and learn from this informative book (about Israel) as opposed to what you know solely from political rhetoric.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2013

    They should change the title to "Not the World My Parents P

    They should change the title to "Not the World My Parents Promised Me" or even "Not the Life I Wanted or what the heck - Deserved".

    Would you like some cheese with your whine? Why are you in the States if you care about Israel so much?

    Move there and make it a better place.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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