by Rutu Modan

Other authorsIshai Mishory (Translator)
Hardcover, 2021

Call number





Drawn and Quarterly (2021), 284 pages


"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 archeological 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 archeologist 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 archeological 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, Modan sets her affecting novel at the centre 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 a Middle East caught up in the past while trying to inch ever forward."--… (more)

Media reviews

Every page is gripping, every frame profoundly political. If Modan has given us a tightly plotted adventure story, she has also delivered a brilliantly daring satire [...]

User reviews

LibraryThing member villemezbrown
"Raiders of the Lost Ark" gets crossed with "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" as an eccentric cast of characters get sucked into a search for the Ark of the Covenant. The mixed up group of treasure hunters are pulled together by an unemployed Israeli single mom who takes up her father's lifelong
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quest but hits a snag when she realizes the dig site is behind a security wall under Palestinian territory. Slightly tame hijinks ensue in a story that looks and feels a little Tintinesque.

A happy diversion with a smidge of politics and a heap of idealism.
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LibraryThing member quondame
Nili, who as the young daughter of a brilliant archeologist was known for discovering a special treasure resumes her now senile father's search for the arc of the covenant without alerting her father's once colleague turned betrayer but everyone involved brings in too many people, old grudges bring
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on new betrayals and alliances and the possibility of deadly consequences are just a hair trigger away. It's people being people in a real pressure cooker of a situation.
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LibraryThing member streamsong
Nili is from a family of Israeli archaeologists. As a child she discovered an iconic artifact while accompanying her renowned father on a dig.

Now her father is suffering from dementia. But Nili believes that her father may have uncovered the truth about where the Ark of the Covenant is hidden –
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and so she returns to a site her father had previously identified but had to abandon due to the Palestinian war.

There is only one problem – the Ark lies in Palestinian territory on the other side of Israel’s protective wall. With an offbeat crew, she accesses her father’s old tunnels in the area and hopes to tunnel her way to where the Ark is hidden.

But the course of such an unlikely adventure doesn’t go smoothly. Others, including her father’s old professional/academc rival as well as Nili’s archaeologist brother would also long to be the discoverers of this treasure. Not all conflicts occur between warring countries, but also happen within professions and families.

I have enjoyed several other of Rutu Modan’s graphic novels, including my favorite [Exit Wounds]. She always brings something unique about conflict to the table and this one was no exception. I was a bit confused in the opening part of the book, as it felt we were dropped into the middle of the story. However, I soon got my bearings and enjoyed this offbeat archaeological adventure.
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LibraryThing member aront
Loved the drawing style. Some of the characters were interesting others were too stereotypical. The zany story was occasionally amusing but didn’t always keep me interested. The best part were the stories within the story. The epilogue explains the book’s main failing: Modan sees the story as
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political allegory and allegory always makes art inauthentic.
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LibraryThing member thisisstephenbetts
Loved this! There is a strong Tintin-vibe to this — the ligne clair, historical treasure hunt and broad cast of characters — but it's more complex & politically aware than Hergé. Centers around a search for the Ark Of The Covenant in Palestine, with multi-generational family drama, soldiers,
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crooks, swindlers, terrorists, rabbis, and plot twists and reversals galore. Go read! I wanted to reread straight away. An interesting afterword from Modan also shouldn't be missed.
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Middle East Book Award (Honorable Mention — Youth Literature — 2022)
Excellence in Graphic Literature Award (Finalist — Adult Fiction — 2022)
Sophie Brody Medal (Honorable Mention — 2022)




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