A race for the Ark of the Covenant finds an exploration into the ethics and world of the international antiquity trade
When a great antiquities collector is forced to donate his entire collection to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Nili Broshi sees her last chance to finish an archaeological expedition begun decades earlier—a dig that could possibly yield the most important religious artifact in the Middle East. Motivated by the desire to reinstate her father’s legacy as a great archaeologist after he was marginalized by his rival, Nili enlists a ragtag crew—a religious nationalist and his band of hilltop youths, her traitorous brother, and her childhood Palestinian friend, now an archaeological smuggler. As Nili’s father slips deeper into dementia, warring factions close in on and fight over the Ark of the Covenant!
Backed by extensive research into this real-world treasure hunt, Rutu Modan sets her affecting novel at the center of a political crisis. She posits that the history of biblical Israel lies in one of the most disputed regions in the world, occupied by Israel and contested by Palestine. Often in direct competition, Palestinians and Israelis dig alongside one another, hoping to find the sacred artifact believed to be a conduit to God. Two time Eisner Award winner Rutu Modan’s third graphic novel, Tunnels, is her deepest and wildest yet. Potent and funny, Modan reveals the Middle East as no westerner could.
Ishai Mishory is a longtime New York City—and newly Bay Area—based translator and sometimes illustrator. He is currently conducting research for a PhD dissertation on 16th century Italian printing.
"Tunnels is an incisive dig into contemporary Israeli life. It’s rich with human foibles, critical of how both religion and archeological claims shape life along the separation wall, and also an adventure story. Rutu Modan is a gifted storyteller, full of life and humor.”—Nicole Krauss, To Be A Man
“Rutu Modan has written and drawn a deeply modern quest, where the hunt for precious antiquities is complicated by human relationships and real-world politics. Vivid characters vie for control, events take unexpectedly hilarious turns, farce folds in on itself, and a cow jumps over the moon. The most fun I've had reading a graphic novel in years.”—Jason Lutes, https://drawnandquarterly.com/tunnels
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Tunnels is the story of rival archaeologists trying to find the Ark of the Covenant somewhere between the borders of Palestine and Israel. Nili and her brother Nimrod have been in conflict within their family for a long time and now they find themselves on opposing archeology teams looking for the Ark. The Ark has great historical and religious significance, so the race to be first is paramount, reputations and family loyalties depend on it! This was an interesting and entertaining read, the family and professional rivalries kept the story moving along. The illustrations were great 👍