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Letting It Go Hardcover – March 19, 2013

3.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Katin, a Holocaust survivor who told the harrowing story of her family’s survival in her 2006 graphic memoir, We Are on Our Own, carries an understandable prejudice against all things German; so when her son Ilan announced that he was moving to Berlin to live with his girlfriend there, it set off a visceral, panicked reaction that she recounts in this wise and funny work. With wry self-awareness and sardonic humor, Katin depicts her reluctant, resentful efforts to deal with her son’s decision as she makes a pair of visits to the city, one to visit Ilan and another to attend an art show featuring her comics work (as her ever-patient musician husband observes, “If Barenboim can be there, so can you”). She even learns the German word for her struggle: vergangenheitsbewältigung—coming to terms with the past. Katin eschews the use of panel borders for her gorgeously expressive color-pencil drawings, giving the narrative an irresistible flow. As well told as it was, much of the power of We Are on Our Own came from its inherently dramatic story; this more nuanced and inward-looking tale is an even greater testament to Katin’s remarkable storytelling abilities. --Gordon Flagg


“[Letting It Go is] thoughtful and unflinching but also frequently funny, and drawn with considerable grace.” ―National Post

“Miriam Katin's Letting It Go is my kind of graphic memoir: loose, impressionistic, a portrait of the artist's inner life.” ―Los Angeles Times

Letting It Go is a moving, funny look inside the artist's thought processes as she reckons with her past and decides whether she's going to live out her golden years in a spirit of resentment or forgiveness.” ―AV Club


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly (March 19, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1770461035
  • ISBN-13: 978-1770461031
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #860,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Miriam Katin is a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor who lives with her husband in New York. She is an artist and her husband is a musician. Born in 1942 in Budapest, Miriam and her mother went into hiding in the Hungarian countryside, posing as a Christian woman and her daughter, after the Germans invaded the country in 1944. She has written a previous book, "We Are On Our Own", which depicts in graphic-style the life she and her mother lived til the war was over.

I haven't read many graphic novels; Katin's might be the fifth or sixth. I can't really comment on the art except to say it is drawn mostly in pencil - both gray and colored - and is very appealing to the eye. The story, though, is what really sets "Letting It Go" off from many works of Holocaust literature.

Miriam Katin's book is about the journey she made - both in body and in spirit - to the city of Berlin, first in 2005 and another trip a year or so later. She had grown up as a hater of Germany and all things German. (And who would blame her?) When she was in her late 60's, her son, Ilan, told her and her husband that he had decided to settle in Berlin and was trying to adopt EU citizenship. Would she claim him as the child of a Hungarian citizen so he could claim EU status. (Even though Katin had US citizenship, she was still considered Hungarian by her place-of-birth. The exact details of this are a bit sketchy in the book.) Faced with examining her past by Ilan's request and talking it over with her mother - the woman who had saved her life during the war - she decided to go through the onerous process of the paperwork. Next up was a trip to Berlin with her husband to visit her son and his girlfriend.

The balance of the book/art is about her visits to Berlin.
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Format: Hardcover
Wow! This a perfect story. Part of the beauty of graphic novels is that they often do not make sense at first: You don't really know who the characters are and don't quite understand the narrative.

But they tend to be brief and you and read again and again and wonder about the things that still don't make sense.

I was drawn to the illustrations in the public library and then was able to enjoy the story by rereading and studying and rereading.

Katin's style reminds me much of Harvey Pekar and his American Splendor series. Katin's obvious plot points are mysterious and funny: Likes Turks and wild birds; hates Germans and bugs but likes all those German bug killers that made survival hard on the Jews but easy to live in a vermin-infested American city..

The subtle plot points are hilarious. The cartoon version of her husband is always mystified by his wife, often suggesting she get a grip, and is even more mystified how she could be so easily suckered back to Berlin on the promise of a bit of celebrity.

It must be emotionally troubling to tell a story this honestly and it must be trippy to draw oneself in the third person: To be outside your body, so to speak. But it's a good way to disappear all those wrinkles.

As soon as possible, I will acquire Katin's earlier narrative, 'We are on our own.' in the meantime, I hope 'Letting it go' gains the traction it deserves and will remains available for many years.

Good work, good luck and thanks for this glorious read.
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Format: Hardcover
Letting it Go by Miriam Katin is an excellent comic, not just for the colorful and vivid artwork, but also for the compelling story of moving on from one of the biggest tragedies of human history. The images that stuck in my mind most of all were two humans walking around a city. But they were not just two humans and certainly it was not just any city. It was Berlin forty years after the Holocaust and the two were a couple who had lived through that terrifying time. Also the lack of defined panels gives the multicolored world a fluid motion to it. Without the strict confines of panels and borders Katin lets her art move freely. Overall an excellent read and I will definitely be recommending this piece of art.
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Format: Hardcover
"Good thing I recently accepted the dry martini as my personal savior."

That is Miriam Katin's reaction to hearing the news that her son was about to settle permanently in Berlin, Germany. Germany --- no matter how hard she tries, Katin can't overcome the intense feelings the very word evokes in her. Her son asks her to complete a form, which will convey citizenship in the EU upon him based on the fact that his mother was born in Hungary. But after he sees what it is doing to her --- how the very presence of the form is hurting her --- he pulls it away. "I threw it into the trash," he notes. "I can't ask this. I see what it's doing to you." It's one of the multitude of beautiful moments throughout Letting It Go, a graphic memoir so tinged with humor and sorrow that it can break the heart and then heal it within the space of just a few panels.

"The building we live in is breathing sorrow," Katin writes at one point. As her comic character gazes on a collection of furniture, art, and more thrown on the street outside her apartment building, she remarks, "Somebody else died." The panel caption simply states: "Here is the detritus of lives long past usefulness."

That is only scratching the surface in terms of the layers of privacy and intimacy peeled back by Katin as she relates the story of visiting Berlin in Letting It Go. Katin is bold, fearless, and never one to shy away from cold, hard truth, particularly when it can reveal the elements of human experience. Her relentless honestly makes Letting It Go compelling and nearly impossible to put down. Just when you think you know how Katin is going to relate to her surroundings --- and the history that brought her to them --- she surprises you, and you laugh. Or wince.

Katin's artwork is incredible as well, depicting color and movement and style with effortless grace. Each page is a wonderful joy to behold.

-- John Hogan
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