The Silence of Malka
Written by Jorge Zentner and Illustrated Rubén Pellejero
Winner of the Best Foreign Graphic Album award at the Angoulême Festival.
Inspired by a story told to him by his grandmother, Jorge Zentner has fashioned a tale that is ostensibly about the migration to South America of Ashkenazi Jews fleeing the pogroms in Russia at the end of the 19th Century, but is also a parable of the making of a modern society and the extent to which religion and mysticism meet.
For the family of the little red-headed Malka, trading the Russian shtetl for the Argentine pampas isn’t so easy. Even in a country eager to populate its vast territories, the immigrants discover that their new home isn’t the promised land. They encounter hostility from both man and nature, as they struggle through droughts and locusts in an attempt to cultivate the arid soil. When misery pushes them to the extreme, Malka’s uncle is visited by the prophet Elias, who advises that he create a Golem—the mythical creature fashioned from the earth and endowed with life by engraving on his body the word Emet (“Truth”)—to pose as a man and aid the immigrants. Malka is told about the Golem, provided she promises to keep the secret.
When years later the adult Malka is visited by Elias, the events of her youth force her to decide whether or not she can maintain her silence—with fate and divine justice hanging in the balance.
This sweeping and poignant story is masterfully drawn in a luminous palette by Rubén Pellejero.