Vic­to­ry Parade

  • Review
By – April 1, 2024

Leela Corman’s newest graph­ic nov­el inter­weaves the lives of Jew­ish char­ac­ters in the final years of World War II and its imme­di­ate after­math. For­mal­ly, Cor­man adopts an expres­sion­ist paint­ing style, a move that not only makes the pages dis­turbing­ly beau­ti­ful but also speaks to how trau­ma resists tra­di­tion­al forms of rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Vic­to­ry Parade is a stun­ning sto­ry that demon­strates the ways in which Holo­caust trauma’s reach in Amer­i­ca frac­tures those it touches. 

Each of the char­ac­ters in Corman’s graph­ic nov­el con­fronts the real­i­ty of anti­semitism and Holo­caust trau­ma in a dif­fer­ent yet not alto­geth­er dis­sim­i­lar fash­ion. Rose, a true Rosie the Riv­et­er,” finds solace in her affair with a dis­abled army vet named George. Ruth, Rose’s adopt­ed daugh­ter who man­aged to escape Ger­many and now lives with Rose in Brook­lyn, strug­gles under the con­fines of gen­der norms and mis­placed Amer­i­can rage. Ruth’s hus­band, Sam, lib­er­at­ed a con­cen­tra­tion camp, an expe­ri­ence that now haunts him at home. Eleanor, Rose’s daugh­ter, grows up in the quag­mire of these com­pound­ing traumas. 

It is the moments in which Cor­man dives ful­ly into expres­sion­ist rep­re­sen­ta­tion that speak most to the way trau­ma dis­mem­bers and dis­torts. After sleep­ing with George for the first time, Rose returns home and takes a bath. Over the course of two pages, Cor­man depicts Rose’s body split­ting, with sep­a­rate body parts dis­mem­bered and float­ing away from each oth­er. These pages con­tain no text, which sug­gests that trau­ma resists lan­guage and man­i­fests somat­i­cal­ly. Rose’s frag­men­ta­tion comes after Cor­man reveals that George has lost his leg in the war. 

Cor­man con­cludes the nov­el by focus­ing on Rose’s hus­band. Over the course of the final thir­ty pages, she paints the hor­rors of the Holo­caust from Sam’s haunt­ed per­spec­tive. Con­cen­tra­tion camp pris­on­ers trans­form into ghosts, dis­em­bod­ied hands grab Sam as he dreams, and Holo­caust vic­tims car­ry­ing their own dis­mem­bered heads com­pel Sam to tell them you saw me!” These final pages, book­end­ed by mun­dane events like tak­ing Eleanor to Coney Island and pick­ing up a pas­sen­ger in his taxi, reflect the way Sam’s trau­ma seeps into his every­day life, dis­tort­ing and frag­ment­ing the world around him. As Sam dri­ves away with his pas­sen­ger, a fel­low war vet who saw some real action,” Sam replies that he saw noth­ing spe­cial” as a cloud filled with the bod­ies of Holo­caust vic­tims plumes out from behind the car. 

Dr. Megan Reynolds is the Devel­op­ment Man­ag­er for the Nation­al Book Foun­da­tion. Before join­ing the Nation­al Book Foun­da­tion, Megan Reynolds served as the Devel­op­ment Coor­di­na­tor at Jew­ish Book Coun­cil. Megan holds a Ph.D. in Eng­lish from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ore­gon and BA in Eng­lish with minors in Cre­ative Writ­ing and Span­ish from Trin­i­ty Uni­ver­si­ty. She is orig­i­nal­ly from New Mex­i­co and now lives in New York City.

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