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Habibi by Craig Thompson
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Habibi (edition 2011)

by Craig Thompson

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1,111727,443 (4.08)92
Member:davidscarter
Title:Habibi
Authors:Craig Thompson
Info:Pantheon (2011), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 672 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

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Habibi by Craig Thompson

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English (66)  French (2)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (72)
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
I had this book on my wish list for a long time and was excited to get it for Mother’s Day. This was an amazing book in so many ways. It was impossible to put down and incredibly interesting. Really this was unlike any other graphic novel I have read.

I am not going to rehash the story description. The story has a bit of an epic adventure feel to it and some survival elements. The settings change drastically throughout; from the boat that Dodola and Zam make their initial home in, to the lush courts of a sultan, to the slums of a busy city. In the beginning the story feels historical but as it continues you realize (scarily) that it could be set in modern day.

Both Dodola and Zam are very interesting characters. Dodola goes through a lot at a very young age (she is married at 9 years old and looking at my 9 year old son this made me shudder) and she is strong but not infallible. She has her moments of weakness and does things to survive that she’s not proud of. Her and Zam have an interesting dynamic because they are very close in age; initially she is more of a mother to him and then later a friend.

There is just so much packed into this book. For example how living in the natural world versus the city contrast each other and how both lifestyles have their own elements of survival to deal with. The idea of slavery and how people are discriminated against both by race and gender in also addressed. Additionally the idea of industrialization and how that can be class driven as well is explored. All of these elements are wrapped up in a story of love and survival and of what Dodola and Zam have to go through both together and separately to survive.

Another thing I found incredibly interesting was the description of the Quran and various aspects of the Islamic religion. I never realized the Quran was so founded in math and science at the fundamental level. All of this was new to me and made me want to learn more about Islam and the Quran.

There is beautiful illustration in here and beautiful poetry as well. Some of the letters of the poetry themselves make beautiful patterns and scenes on the pages. The book itself, with it’s beautiful cover and pages, is a masterpiece that I adore owning. I would recommend for older teen to adult readers; there is a lot of bad stuff that happens in here (including sexual violence) and lots of nudity as well.

Overall this is an amazing book that really brings graphic novels to a new level. There is so much in here that is interesting and thoughtful and it is all wrapped up in a story that is incredibly engaging. ( )
  krau0098 | May 27, 2016 |
This book provokes a lot of thought, not only for the story itself, but for the controversies surrounding it. The interweaving and juxtaposition of stories from the Old Testament and the Qur'an were particularly interesting. The integration of Arabic calligraphy and symbols into the art made for some stunning visuals. A tip for those who read this: there is a notes section at the back of the book that translates the calligraphy. I wish I'd noticed this before I read the book so I could reference it during my reading. If you choose to read this book, I recommend looking up the various controversies surrounding this story. ( )
  EllsbethB | Apr 26, 2016 |
I was shopping for books on September 27, 2011. I was going to the cashier when I noticed a breath-taking looking book! I remember holding it close and saying “Wow” loudly, a customer beside me turned his head to look at “the-wow-book”!

I went home quickly wanting to be alone with this pretty Arabic/English book! I flipped it open and begin reading and I was instantly in love with Dodola and Zam’s story. The description of the prophets’ story was very accurate and beautiful to look at.

But because I read both Arabic and English was confused over some things going on. First, until the half of the book, I thought we were following a story in the old times, stories of harem and whatnot. But by the half we see there are cars and modern life technology! We see from the costumes, that are kind of Indian or Pakistani country, and yet they speak and talk and write Arabic and obviously are Muslims! The world he created is not contemporary to our world now.

Second, I didn’t get the whole use of the magic boxes and why we see a ط on Dodola’s back for slavery when ع is the first letter in Arabic for the word.

I’m an Arabian woman who lives in the Middle East and I never encountered anything like what I read. The world he created is not contemporary for me at least.

About men actually removing their manhood is so strange and unrealistic; I never met or knew a man who wanted their "equipment" removed.

All through the book, we see that Dodola tells Zam The Prophets stories as bedtime stories. We see that she tries to relate to them to stay strong, and to teach Zam something in their free time.

The book is beautifully breath-taking that takes the beautiful Arabian designs and stories like One Thousand and One Nights way of narrating a story to a whole new level of beautiful. ( )
  mrsdanaalbasha | Mar 12, 2016 |
I was shopping for books on September 27, 2011. I was going to the cashier when I noticed a breath-taking looking book! I remember holding it close and saying “Wow” loudly, a customer beside me turned his head to look at “the-wow-book”!

I went home quickly wanting to be alone with this pretty Arabic/English book! I flipped it open and begin reading and I was instantly in love with Dodola and Zam’s story. The description of the prophets’ story was very accurate and beautiful to look at.

But because I read both Arabic and English was confused over some things going on. First, until the half of the book, I thought we were following a story in the old times, stories of harem and whatnot. But by the half we see there are cars and modern life technology! We see from the costumes, that are kind of Indian or Pakistani country, and yet they speak and talk and write Arabic and obviously are Muslims! The world he created is not contemporary to our world now.

Second, I didn't get the whole use of the magic boxes and why we see a ط on Dodola’s back for slavery when ع is the first letter in Arabic for the word.

I’m an Arabian woman who lives in the Middle East and I never encountered anything like what I read. The world he created is not contemporary for me at least.

About men actually removing their manhood is so strange and unrealistic; I never met or knew a man who wanted their "equipment" removed.

All through the book, we see that Dodola tells Zam The Prophets stories as bedtime stories. We see that she tries to relate to them to stay strong, and to teach Zam something in their free time.

The book is beautifully breath-taking that takes the beautiful Arabian designs and stories like One Thousand and One Nights way of narrating a story to a whole new level of beautiful. ( )
  mrsdanaalbasha | Mar 12, 2016 |
Reviewed in Time mag
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
When I had finished reading Habibi, I thought, well, it's Orientalist, it's misogynist, but damn, he learned how to write Arabic calligraphy well. ... To my surprise, I discovered from reports of people who had seen Thompson read and discuss his work, that though he had learned the basics of the alphabet, the intricate calligraphy in the book was all traced from outside sources. ... But this is simply one more example of the shallowness that undergirds the entire work: a laudable impulse to learn more, to reverse prejudice, was followed by a lazy embrace of Burton over Said, of voyeurism over empowerment, and tracing over writing. Habibi is a beautiful book and a terrible book. I am grateful for how much it has offended me. I could almost burn it.
 
And that is Habibi’s ultimate strength. All its cleverness, all its density, all its intricacy, are brought together in the service of one simple but all-too-easily-forgotten point: There is no way through this life but with each other. That is the foundation for Thompson’s interlocking patterns, its self-evidence obscured from our view like the scratched-out shapes that form a letter. Thankfully we have a writer like Thompson around to focus our gaze.
added by Serviette | editNational Post, David Berry (Sep 23, 2011)
 
Habibi, which the eye perceives as a celebration of life force, settles in the mind as a campaign of punishment. Gaze upon its beauty and despair
 
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"Sprawling across an epic landscape of deserts, harems, and modern industrial clutter, Habibi tells the tale of Dodola and Zam, refugee child slaves bound to each other by chance, by circumstance, and by the love that grows between them. We follow them as their lives unfold together and apart; as they struggle to make a place for themselves in a world (not unlike our own) fueled by fear, lust, and greed; and as they discover the extraordinary depth-- and frailty-- of their connection. At once contemporary and timeless, Habibi gives us a love story of astounding resonance: a parable about our relationship to the natural world, the cultural divide between the first and third worlds, the common heritage of Christianity and Islam, and, most potently, the magic of storytelling" -- dust jacket wrap.… (more)

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