Thursday, March 7, 2019 - 12:15pm - 1:15pm
Gendebein Room, Skillman Library
Jessica Carr

This paper analyzes the life of Alex Appella’s art book Entonces El Libro(“And so the book,” published in English as The János Book)and the Bibliotecas Ambulantes (“Traveling Libraries”) that developed after the trade publication of Entonces El Libro in Argentina.The life of Appella’s publications demonstrates the multidirectionality of Jewish text. It is also an excellent example to consider how Jewish writing is available to Jews and non-Jews, simultaneously as Jewish and generalizable narrative.

Appella was born in the United States but moved to Argentina when she was twenty to unravel a family secret, the topic of Entonces El Libro. The text weaves together a history of a family born in pre-Holocaust Hungary that spread out through the United States, Uruguay and Argentina, and Palestine/Israel.  The non-linear and metanarrative of the text, the interaction of images with verbal text, the movement of the book between English and Spanish, and the process from limited circulation art book to trade publication begin to reveal the complicated life of the text. I argue that the medium of visual literature such as art books and graphic novels creates different possibilities for weaving together fragmented histories. 

The life of the text in the Traveling Libraries has circulated copies of the trade book to hundreds or thousands of readers in Argentina. This has led to a dissemination of knowledge about the Holocaust in a country where such education is not nearly as prevalent as in the U.S. Furthermore, when the Traveling Libraries return, instructors, teachers of children to adults, send back their responses to the text and offer a rare glimpse into reader response. Few readers are Jewish, and their reactions to the text engage both Jewish history as well as the ways they connect the story to their own lives.  

Sponsored by: 
Academic Research Committee, Library, CITLS

Contact information

David Nice