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Klezmer - Conquête de l'Est (Klezmer #1)

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  412 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
Klezmer tells a wild tale of love, friendship, survival, and the joy of making music in pre-World War II Eastern Europe.Noah is perfectly content as the leader of a traveling klezmer band, until his bandmates are brutally murdered by rival musicians.He sets out for Odessa alone, but is joined by Chava, a beautiful girl with a voice like an angel.Meanwhile, Yaacov is expell ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published May 5th 2006 by Gallimard (first published November 1st 2005)
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Jun 06, 2011 Damon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's a really great balance between lighthearted and dark in this book, but despite horrible things happening, the characters keep a... maybe not exactly "positive " outlook, but they don't dwell on these things. They keep moving forward, living however they have to. From reading the fairly extensive backmatter by Sfar (which is one of the best things about the book overall) I'd guess that this is meant as sort of a larger comment on the Jewish experience in Europe to some extent, in addition ...more
Feb 11, 2014 Maan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novel
Book #10 for 2014: This is a story about Jews pre-World War II in Eastern Europe. The story's sadness is masked by the watercolor and music. I enjoyed reading this musical graphic novel.

Favorite Lines:

And that I grow up with this worrisome thought: that humanist ideals and utopias of equality for all citizens are revocable at any time. (IX)

It's like the black person whose ancestors were slaves a very long time ago and who still feels the chains from time to time. Not out of paranoia. Not always
Eric Orchard
Jun 25, 2012 Eric Orchard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
Every time I read a book by Sfar I'm just blown away by his versatility, storytelling skills and drawing that seems to leap from the page. This comic is wonderful, I can't recommend it highly enough.
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Sep 11, 2012 Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides marked it as maybe-read-sometime  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Snail in Danger (Sid) by: saw it in a HPB
Shelves: comics
Nice art style, but whoa. Downer beginning.
Oct 29, 2011 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Klezmer is a short graphic novel set in what Joann Sfar calls the "Wild East," Eastern Europe about a century ago. It tells of a disparate group of misfits who come together to form a klezmer band. One is the only survivor of an ambush of his musical troop, one a runaway bride, two of them are rabbinical students thrown out of their yeshiva, and the final is a gypsy. The group only gets together in the end when they all meet each other in Odessa, which launches a "to be continued" for the second ...more
Apr 07, 2008 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit-nongenre
These characters--all itinerant musicians--live in a world that is openly hostile to them, yet also offers opportunities and a vagabond type of freedom. It's set in Eastern Europe in the nineteenth (?) century. Our lead characters are four Jews and one Gypsy. Both of those peoples were numerous and well established in the region, but definitely oppressed minorities.

There's something about the tragic religiosity of some Jewish traditions that really appeals to me. It doesn't avoid or whitewash t
The plot is totally pleasant, but the art annoys me enough to make me dock it a star. That is: the plot's not pleasant enough to overcome my habitual dislike of flowy, messy, free-spirited, blobby art, even if it is colorful. In the back, Sfar references Sempe, and although he says he's not trying to do that, it reminds me of his stuff and also of Saul Steinberg, who's acclaimed but really not my style. It makes me think of New Yorker covers I look immediately past and, sometimes, of long articl ...more
Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore
This is the Eastern European Jewish story, whereas the Rabbi's cat is the Algerian Jewish story (the author, Joann Sfar, has parents from both sides... and interestingly has said that the Algerian Jews are more attuned to God-talk and God-thought (surrounded by Muslims?) and the Eastern European Jews more to do with tradition and survival, not really surprising. But Sfar is a wonderful storyteller and brings his characters to life, with humor and serious pathos at the same time, along with these ...more
Mar 29, 2014 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The style and tone of this comic was really fun, and Sfar's notes and impressions at the end on klezmer and modern day Judaism were great. Very much looking forward to grabbing the next volumes.
Víctor Segovia
Apr 15, 2016 Víctor Segovia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No hace mucho le di final a esta obra o lo que considero, la primera entrega. Tenía años sin leer comic europeo y vaya que buena sorpresa me ha dado Klezmer, con la singularidad del dibujo, un guión sencillo pero que deja ver que el autor investigó mucho sobre el asunto así como, a pesar de ser un medio impreso, sabe imprimir algo más allá que solo la música puede lograr
Vishesh Unni
Sep 27, 2015 Vishesh Unni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love the art, I love the layers to the story. I also love what Sfar has to say at the end of it. Is there going to be another one in the series? I hope so.
Oleg Kagan
Aug 29, 2014 Oleg Kagan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: judaism, russia
An engaging part one in a series of three, Klezmer tells the origins of a klezmer band in old world Ukraine, drawn in beautiful watercolor. I can't tell which character is more interesting: the genius torah prodigy, the sheltered yeshiva student, the vagaband musician, or the voluptuous runaway; all of them have personalities fit for stories. Too bad volume two and three aren't available in English because I'd really be interested to know what happens next!

p.s. - The notes following the book ar
Thomas Andrikus
What an odd graphic novel!

The fact that numerous people die tragically in the story even in the first few pages may lead one to dismiss it as another tragic history of the Jewish people. However, soon enough, one would discover that Klezmer is beyond that.

The drawing is a bit of chaos, but I guess such is the author Joann Sfar's style.

Somehow, the story goes between the introduction of individual characters before finally converging at the point where they are to play together as a band.

Jan 27, 2013 Story rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sfar yet again shows us people's cruelty and tenderness, their playfulness, craftiness, their hard edges. I am no longer surprised by his ability to dive into the human condition through his varied Jewish background; he's spoiled me on it and set the bar for most of the rest of what I read these days. All of the characters have a richness about them, a realness. I was intrigued that Yaacov had so much in him of the cat from "The Rabbi's Cat." I thought myself clever for noticing, and then Sfar p ...more
Aug 07, 2009 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I believe God loves those moments when we do without him." --Joann Sfar.

Another reason to adore Joann Sfar is his _Klezmer: Book One: Tales of the Wild East_. With light, quick hand and wit Sfar paints the tale of a ragged band of musicians and Yeshiva dropouts who sing folk songs as they travel from village to village. Their destination: Odessa, where an exotic, wealthy woman hires them to play at her mansion. Another set of hilarious, splotchy drawings illuminate the pages of _Klezmer_. The b
Jul 01, 2008 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is probably the best written, most involving book by Joann Sfar (though one could probably never call his books "involving" as their appeal usually lies in their utterly laid back, relaxed attitude) but it doesn't matter. The man has such a glorious way about his art that most of his books will rate highly with me. Still it doesn't hurt that he's a great writer of comics. This one is probably a 3 star one from me. Not as great as The Rabbi's Cat or as fun as Dungeon, but still, it is a) abo ...more
Dec 09, 2010 Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Ashkenazi flip side of The Rabbi's Cat. The visual style is a little looser (maybe intentionally Chagallesque) and the plot is sort of a "Seven Samurai" homage. I can imagine this book (with the cartoon full-frontal nudity) titillating Sam in 10 years. So, Sam Of The Future, I hereby consign this to the bookshelf for you to discover in years to come. You're welcome.

Now go listen to some klezmer music.
Mikael Kuoppala
Oct 28, 2011 Mikael Kuoppala rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Joann Sfar has delved into his North African heritage in the acclaimed series “The Rabbi’s Cat,” so it’s only natural for him to do the same with his Eastern European roots. Klezmer dives into the history of the region, offering a road trip kind of story structure with many different colourful characters. The feel is very much like that in “The Rabbi’s Cat,” but Klezmer does have its own distinctive flavour.
sweet pea
this book features an appealing cast of outcasts who haphazardly band together to form a band. the story is excellent and evokes an eastern europe long gone. the illustrations are fairly inchoate and often feature improbably bright colors. which keeps things interesting. the book just ends. which is fairly cruel as the rest of the series hasn't been translated into english yet.
Mar 08, 2008 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another fun book from Sfar -- can this guy slow down? Prolific -- and good -- two things that I think are very hard to accomplish. The only disappointing thing about this book is that it's the first in a series -- I thought it was a stand-alone story and then it's "to be continued". Not a bad thing, unless you're not expecting it going in.
Jan 26, 2013 Phredric rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A promising start to a new series. I liked the story, although it's more of a launch pad for the rest of the series, but actually preferred the Q&As with Safar at the end of the book. Also, I didn't like the style of illustrations (semi-abstract watercolours) as much as the illustrations in The Rabbi's Cat.
Dec 22, 2009 Deborah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
French graphic novelist Joann Sfar's story about ragtag outsiders who join to form a klezmer band is a joy. The art and story are very loose and flowing. His comments at the end are especially interesting about what klezmer and being Jewish mean today (to him, of course).
Urocze, zarówno rysunki jak i opowieść, byłoby więcej gwiazdek, ale język naprawdę nieciekawy - choć zakładam, że to wada polskiego tłumaczenia (co zresztą nie byłoby nowością, wydaje mi się, że może trochę lepiej, ale nadal średnio wyglądało od tej strony "Persepolis")
Nov 13, 2007 Christina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphicnovels
Eh. I was hoping for something more like Fiddler on the Roof, I suppose. Klezmer being the Jewish musical tradition. But I didn't like the characters, and hated the drawing style, it's all squiggles that you can hardly make out. Not my thing.
Mike Short
Sfar is always good. Doesn't dissapoint here. The art is pretty, very rough/sketchy in quick watercolor washes. works ok for this. The storytelling is solid 4 stars for the writing, 2 for the art. Looking forward to the next one
I love Joann Sfar. This is a great graphic story about Klezmer music by an amazing Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewish artist. There is an interesting interview in the back where he also talks about his identity and politics--all good stuff!
Apr 15, 2011 Catherine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, moving, and totally interesting. I enjoyed both the graphic novel part and the wee little essays at the back. My only complaint is that Parts 2 and 3 haven't been translated into English yet!
I like Sfar's depiction of 19th century Eastern Europe as some sort of wild land of outlaws and gun-toting klezmer musicians. However, I find his loose, scribbly drawing style to be too messy and simplistic.
Jun 09, 2009 Jeffrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loosely drawn volume has two parallel stories - both are compelling, and the art is beautiful. Keep in mind this is book one, though... can't wait for the next installment!
Feb 12, 2008 Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With each piece I read I become a bigger fan of Joann Sfar. I love his stories, and I particularly liked the water coloring in Klezmer. Can't wait to read book two.
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Joann Sfar (born August 28, 1971 in Nice) is a French comics artist, comic book creator, and film director.

Sfar is considered one of the most important artists of the new wave of Franco-Belgian comics. Many of his comics were published by L'Association which was founded in 1990 by Jean-Christophe Menu and six other artists. He also worked together with many of the new movement's main artists, e.g.
More about Joann Sfar...

Other Books in the Series

Klezmer (5 books)
  • Klezmer - Bon anniversaire Scylla (Klezmer, #2)
  • Klezmer - Tous des voleurs ! (Klezmer, #3)
  • Klezmer - Trapèze volant! (Klezmer, #4)
  • Klezmer - Kishinev-des-fous (Klezmer, #5)

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“I believe God loves those moments when we do without him.” 5 likes
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