If The Rabbi's Cat is Joann Sfar's exploration of his father's Sephardic roots, then Klezmer is seeped in the tradition of his Ashkenazi mother tracing the birth and sensibility behind the Klezmer folk music of Jewish origin through a group of East European wandering musicians. Outcast by their own community the Baron of Backside, Chava, Yaacov and Vincenzo find themselves consequently even lower in the social chain in a period when European Jews are brutally oppressed. Through a series of misadventures and a few found instruments, they come together with a persecuted gypsy Tshokola and set about creating wondrous, hypnotic music to entertain both Russians and Jews and earn the few pennies they need to survive.
Sfar's art and storytelling are astonishingly fluid. Reminiscent of Sempé with the colouring of Chagall, he makes the music come alive on the page, as well as giving full expression to the emotions of the characters and bringing the landscapes they wander in wondrously to life. The high quality of the paper stock in First-Second's superb edition assists no end in doing full justice to the artwork, including author notes and preparatory sketches. The subsequent volumes of the series are eagerly anticipated.