The Realist by Asaf Hanuka is not paginated because it doesn’t need numbers in the corner. Its brilliant illustrations and sharp commentary leads you to continue flipping through the pages until its final moments. Asaf Hanuka’s graphic novel tells an intimate story of his life while growing up in Tel Aviv.

Appearing in every panel are familiar feelings. Although Hanuka creates extreme portrayals of his stress and isolation, all of his feelings are rooted in truth. On one page, Hanuka picks off his eyes, nose, ears, and lips. He places pieces of himself on paper, and then proceeds to draw on his face two eyes and a smile. This feeling of wanting happiness resonates with the audience. Throughout the graphic novel, the pursuit of true emotions liven the pages.

For a moment, let’s take a break from The Realist and travel back in time. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flavbert is deemed as the greatest realist novel of all time. Starting during the 19th century, the artistic movement of Realism sought to illustrate the pragmatism, which was present in everyday life.


There wasn’t any glitz, glamour, or facetious details. There words that came together to reflect our lives. Nearly two centuries later, Asaf Hanuka channels the artistic movement into his graphic novel. The audience reads the familiar struggles of raising a family, paying bills, and trying to reignite a romance with a wife while raising two kids.

Engrained in Hanuka’s story are questions. The Realist’s darkest corners ask the intimate question of what happens to a creative soul when adulthood officially appears. Does the realism of life force the creativity to disappear? Or does the soul continue trying to live while dealing with marriage, bills, and the chaos of race and politics?

Like life, the answers aren’t simple. The Realist doesn’t attempt to provide exterior hope for the audience. The last image is a father shattered by a technologically advanced society that’s still fixed on prejudice. There is no love. After the last image, there’s only anxiety and uncertainty for the future.