Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Review of Habibi

Today I got my copy of Craig Thompson's Habibi. My first impression of the book is how gorgeous, intricate and detailed it is. Scrolling and elegant Arabic calligraphy loops and curls across the pages. The story is about two escaped slaves, Dodola and Zam. Dodola provides for them both by prostituting herself to local traveling caravans while they live in an abadoned ship now permanently marooned upon the desert sands.

Dodola tells Zam stories partly in amusement and escapist fantasy. Some tales are about the creation of Eden, the riddles put to Soloman, the magic in letters and numbers, and of the prophet Mohammed and his journey through heaven. These stories along with numerology, symbols and the power of words are interwoven through the story of Dodola and Zam. Eventually Dodola is recaptured by slavers and sold into the golden-cage existence of a sultan's harem. Zam, meanwhile, fights to save her.

Habibi is complex, rich, both beautiful and ugly in the contrast between the myths and the intricate tapestry of images with the horrible realities of slavery. While a graphic novel, Habibi is an adult book with nudity and sexual imagery and definitely not meant for children. I would recommend Habibi to anyone seeking a good story that is beautifully illustrated and well told.

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