Habibi by Craig Thompson

Have the tissues ready when you read this one for multiple reasons. The story…heartbreaking…the art…gorgeous. Neither is a surprise after reading Blankets, one of my favorite graphic novels, no…BOOKS, ever. This book isn’t one that I can compare to Blankets, his earlier work, though. It has a complete life of it’s own and might be the most in depth graphic novel I’ve ever read. It’s story is completely epic while still remaining completely intimate. It’s one that will stay with me for a long time.

Habibi is a boy who’s name is Zam. Habibi is a nickname he’s given by Dodola, a woman who adopts him in a way. Dodola is a young woman in the middle east who is sold to a husband at the age of 9. When she escapes that marriage, she meets a young boy named Zam who’s a slave at the time. The adventures that they go on are sad and horrible, but there are lights of sunshine throughout the novel. This is a novel of slavery, rape, anti-feminism, religion, poverty, and so much more. Like I said…have the tissues ready.

Habibi is a very smart book too that educates without preaching. Thompson shows the similarities between Islam and Christianity. How these two religions that seem to be constantly at war actually have so much in common. The art…it’s stunning. I don’t even know that I have words to properly convey how gorgeous of a book this is. I cannot even imagine the amount of time, energy and work put into something like this.

I read a review of this on the Guardian’s website that says basically all of what I said but then goes on to say that the book is too long and ultimately tiring and exhausting. I couldn’t disagree with that more. It’s tiring and exhausting because of the tragedies that go on in the book. But if you think for one minute that this stuff doesn’t happen every day not just in the middle east, but hear in the US too, you are sorely mistaken. I personally think it’s offensive to call this tiring and exhausting and too long. That’s basically saying “I can’t deal with all of that horrific stuff…I’ll just ignore it.” That’s what I get from that at least. These are things that HAVE to be talked about. No change can happen without talk.

I’ll leave you with some images from this gorgeous book…I think they speak for themselves on how amazing it is and how badly I want you all to read it.



11 Responses

  1. Sounds good! Hopefully I will read this at some point!

  2. I got to read a little chapbook version of the first chapter which came to me from BEA, and it was great! I can’t wait to get my hands on the whole books. Just waiting for the library to order it.

  3. The illustrations are so beautiful! I can’t wait to read this. What a great review, Chris! I really hate when people don’t get the tragedies of life and instead blame it on whatever book they’re reading.

  4. Ooooh, veeeeeerry interesting. Might have to check this one out.

  5. Oh, I’m so, so glad you enjoyed this one! Blankets was my first real graphic novel read, and I did it as a buddy read with Ana, which was wonderful. I am so glad this one is also excellent.

  6. I started reading this at the bookstore the other day when I was waiting for an interview with Colin Meloy to start, and God, it was brutal. I’m going to finish reading it because you’re right, it’s absolutely beautiful, but even from just the first third, I can see what the Guardian reviewer was talking about. I have a hard time reading rape scenes in regular fiction, let alone in graphic fiction.

  7. If it’s anywhere near as good as Blankets it’ll be pretty special!

  8. I haven’t heard of Blankets OR Habibi, but I’m going to check Craig Thompson out. I have been wanting to read more graphic books and am always looking for recommendations.

  9. […] at Largehearted Boy absolutely loved it. Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made On was wildly impressed by its depth, its tragedy, and how it handled complex issues such as […]

  10. GAH! I can’t wait to read it. I can’t WAIT!!! I loooooved Blankets and Craig Thompson and graphic novels in general. Damn this book buying ban. I’m going to go poke my library, who doesn’t have a copy yet, the losers.

  11. Wow the art is truly beautiful. Thank you for sharing those images. This sounds much different than Blankets and I could not be more excited to get my little hands on it!

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