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Habibi by Craig Thompson

Habibi (edition 2011)

by Craig Thompson

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945589,201 (4.05)85
Authors:Craig Thompson
Info:Amsterdam Oog & Blik cop. 2011
Collections:strips, Read but unowned

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Habibi by Craig Thompson


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English (53)  French (2)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (58)
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
The illustrations are terrific; many make use of really lovely calligraphic Arabic. The world of the story occupies an indeterminate and shifting time - partly Arabian Nights, partly modern totalitarian petro-state. It's a problematic book, throwing around tropes from the Arabian Nights, even while explicitly acknowledging that the source material is racist and misogynist (and also, though this is not so explicit, Orientalist). The storyline argues that love, intimacy, and hope are possible even in a brutal world - but while the story condemns sexism, objectification, rape, and abuse, the book would be a lot less interesting to read if the illustrations didn't make the heroine into such a compelling sex object. Perhaps that's intended to make a point (for example, that the reader is no better than many of the characters in the story?), but it feels instead that the author is trying to have it both ways. Again, the illustrations are terrific. ( )
  bezoar44 | Mar 14, 2015 |
Difficile, dopo questo capolavoro di Thompson, decidere di rileggere a breve qualche altra graphic novel. Il confronto sarebbe impari.
Sinfonia della calligrafia e del dettaglio, rotolo di lettere e storie, sintesi di un mondo di cui diventa difficile solo immaginarne la vastita'. ( )
  bobparr | Dec 14, 2014 |
Escaped slaves Dodola and Zam have to face the horrors of the modern/ancient world in order to survive. The good parts are the excellent art and a few of the storylines (those dealing with contemporary consumerism and environmentalism), but they get buried a little underneath another forty or so storylines. Unfortunately, it's quite sexist as well - pretty much every male in the book is up for some rape whenever a woman is around, no big deal. Its racial stereotypes that are pretty bad too - apparently in Thompson's idea of the Muslim world, harems where a sultan can have women's heads chopped off without anyone reacting is compatible with having a regular 21st century modern city outside its walls. In total, it's a yes for the art and a couple of the storylines and a resounding no for all the rest. ( )
1 vote -Eva- | Apr 13, 2014 |

5 stars for the artwork.

Craig Thompson makes me so insanely jealous that I can't see straight. His artwork is out of this world and so are his storytelling skills. It's just elements of the story that I happen to have a problem with, mainly how sexualized women are, the way all the Arab stereotypes come into play and the fact that Dodola ended up with romantic feelings for Zam(I cannot able to understand this).

But you should still read this book. Because the artwork is breathtaking and I love how he weaved in fables and stories from the Quran into his narrative. ( )
  ashpapoye | Jan 24, 2014 |
Dodola is a 9 year old girl sold into marriage by her father. Her husband, a scribe, tells her stories and teaches her how to read and write. When Dodola is 12 she is stolen from her husband and branded as a slave. She manages to escape from the slave market with a 3 year old orphan boy, Cham. (Dodola calls him Zam) Dodola and Zam live in an abandoned boat in the dessert. Dodola raises Zam as if he were her child, she shares her stories with him, and teaches him to read and write. Dodola uses her body to trade for food from the men in the passing caravans. When Dodola is 21 and Zam is 12 they become separated. After many years apart and many struggles they are reunited and eventually form a different relationship. Although the story is often bleak and violent (mainly sexual violence) the ultimate message is positive.
Thompson uses stories from Islam and Christianity, weaving them together, in narrative as well as in the illustrations. This is a gorgeous book. Thompson utilizes the Arabic alphabet, alchemical symbols and arabesque design motifs as borders, chapter and endpapers and background design elements. Some of the art panels are stunning. One of my favorite panels shows the two main characters standing with their arms wrapped around each other in a hug with rain pouring down. In this panel the rain is depicted as the words of a poem in Arabic. (An excerpt from the poem is below).
An amazing book. Highly recommended.

excerpt from Rain Song by Badr Shakir al-Sayyab
Translated from Arabic by Lena Jayyusi and Christopher Middleton

It is as if archways of mist drank the clouds
And drop by drop dissolved in the rain...
As if children snickered in the vineyard towers,
The song of the rain
Rippled the silence of birds in the trees...
Drip, drop, the rain...
Drop...the rain

Evening yawned, from low clouds
Heavy tears are streaming still.
It is as if a child before sleep were rambling on
About his mother ( a year ago he went to wake her, did not find her,
Then was told, for he kept on asking,
"After tomorrow, she'll come back again...")

That she must come back again,
Yet his playmates whisper that she is there
In the hillside, sleeping her death forever,
Eating the earth around her, drinking the rain;
As if a forlorn fisherman gathering nets
Cursed the waters and fate
And scattered a song at moonset,
Drip, drop, the rain...
Drip, drop, the rain...

Do you know what sorrows the rain can inspire?
Do you know how gutters weep when it pours down?
Do you know how lost a solitary person feels in the rain?
Endless, like spilt blood, like hungry people, like love,
Like children, like the dead, endless the rain. ( )
1 vote VioletBramble | Jan 7, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (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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