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Habibi by Craig Thompson
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English (79)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  German (1)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (86)
Showing 1-5 of 79 (next | show all)
While I found this graphic novel a very interesting read, and since I love history, I couldn't help but be annoyed by the anachronistic movement between time periods in the book, it was very disturbing to me both for historical reasons and for personal reasons. I doubt very much that any harem would have accepted a woman known not to be a virgin, first of all, and then the fact that this book traces much of Ottoman history, with the eunuch heirarchy and the dumping of the concubines into the Bosporus, but remains inaccurate in such annoying other ways. On a personal level, since the novel was a gift from a person who turned out to be enamored of me despite previous denials, the title (Beloved) hit me from the start in the gut, and the story line only made things worse. So perhaps I am too biased to rate this book, but for me, 3 is actually not a bad rating. ( )
  ShiraDest | Mar 6, 2019 |
A disturbing and difficult story... beautifully told. ( )
  patl | Feb 18, 2019 |
I loved this book. The story telling is amazing. I loved the artwork in it. It was nice to read the differnces between the two religions on the same stories. ( )
  LVStrongPuff | Nov 29, 2018 |

They say a man's inspiration is visual, but for a woman, it's the narrative.

Abandon both the narrative and the visual. Close your eyes, measure your breath.

Dead weight is sloughed off, dust swept away, forms dissolve into one atmosphere.

The rib cage opens, the lungs fill, the breast rises.

Waves sweep up the body on their swell, rocking it rhythmically.

Feet planted, the back arches, the pelvis reaches forward.

Oxygen kindles a flame, sprawling through the belly, and gathering in a warm blaze.

The hand reaches to meet the sensation.

Calligraphy spills from the inkwell.

Open your eyes, sharpen your focus, and exclaim:

There are no separations.
( )
  Spr1t3 | Jul 31, 2018 |
As far as Habibi's merit as a work of visual art, there's almost no question that it is as astounding as it is mesmerizing. There are pages, like those pictured to the right, covered almost entirely by ink, and all of it is stylized and beautiful and, beyond that, intentional. I mean, it's one thing if a someone who knows art really well, studies it for a living or for an engrossing hobby notices the symbols and purpose in the composition of a graphic novel. But when someone who only understands visual symbolism with passing amateurism notices and appreciates them, you know you've done your job well. The art in Habibi is both accessible and, according to my more visually-inclined friends, sophisticated. That's a hard balance to maintain.

The narrative itself is engaging in the way it navigates the realms of the real, the abstract, and the myth. In a way, the story felt almost like an extended stream-of-consciousness in the way it related the past and the present and the stories of the two main characters, Zam and Dodola.

The art helped define this, through recurring images and styles. After only one read-through, I haven't completely unpacked all the complexities of the relationship between the visual art and the narrative. But while reading, I did notice some. The narrative uses Arabic script as both a visual art and written art, connecting the appearance of characters, words, and phrases to the visual world of the story, as you can see to the left. Likewise, the history of the written language itself, the power reading and writing grant to Zam and Dodola, and the fluid and changing meanings of certain words and phrases are all important elements of the story. Also, the art and narrative work together to pair elements from nature together with elements of human sexuality, such as a male eunuch with a tree stump whose roots are still intact and functional, or the use of hot sand as purity.

The actual story, one of Zam and Dodola who have their childhoods stolen from them by the slave trade and fight to stay together and stay isolated from the more painful aspects of their society, is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. It's interspersed with folk and religious stores from Arab/Muslim culture, as Dodola tells stories to Zam and others. There are questions of religion and faith, of relationships and mutual mis/understanding, of connection and lack thereof to the natural world.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who

has read and enjoyed Blankets, Curses, or David Small.
doesn't have a weak stomach regarding nudity and sexually explicit narratives and images
has a cursory understanding of Islam or an interest in topics related to it
wants a quick and wonderful introduction to the world of "comics" ( )
  MMHealy | Feb 9, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 79 (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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