Thursday, April 2, 2015

Book Review: Megillat Esther by JT Waldman

Megillat Esther by JT Waldman

Esther's story is set during the Babylonian Exile, when the nation of Israel was overrun, Jerusalem sacked, and the people taken into slavery. The Jews were scattered over the Babylonian empire and some of the king's men schemed to wipe them out. The king had his own scheme--get rid of his unsatisfactory queen Vashti by, in essence, holding a beauty contest. Esther, a humble Jewish woman, was one of the many brought to Shushan (the capital city) to be judged if she was beautiful enough to be queen. The king fell for her without knowing her nationality. When his adviser Haman leads the attempt to wipe out the Jews, Esther intervenes and turns the tables on him and his conspirators. The story has drama, comedy, and pathos in a fine mixture.

Artist and author JT Waldman makes a fine blend of the story's classical and timeless elements in this graphic novel. Shushan looks like an ancient capital city and the clothing has an ancient opulence evoking the BC era. Some scenes are practically straight out of a reality TV show and Waldman evokes those with a modern sensibility, giving the story a lightness and sense of fun that may not immediately come out when reading an unadorned translation. The Hebrew text is interwoven through the panels lending the work another touch of authenticity. The back of the book has a bibliography, explanatory notes (like "Megillat Esther" means "Scroll of Esther" in English), and some Rabbinic citations.

This book is an interesting, creative take on the text of Esther.


Verse 2:18 (click to enlarge)

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