Habibi

I don t usually read graphic novels but on the recommendation of my roommate and the fact that this is one beautiful looking book I started reading this At first I wasn t sure how to review it b

I don't usually read graphic novels, but on the recommendation of my roommate (and the fact that this is one beautiful-looking book) I started reading this. At first, I wasn't sure how to review it, because frankly I had a lot of conflicting feelings about it. Some parts I loved, some parts I hated, some parts I wonder if I just misunderstood. But it's okay, because that just means I was given an opportunity to write a review in what is, personally, my favorite reviewing style, which is:THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY. Aw yeah. Better use the bathroom and grab a snack, guys, we're gonna be here a while. THE GOOD: first, this is a gorgeous graphic novel. Every page is filled with details that I probably didn’t even notice because I was whipping through the story so fast (despite being 700 pages, you can get through this in a couple days because of all the pictures), and it made me want to go back and just look at the pages without noticing the words. And the story is equally wonderful: Dodola and Zam, brought together as slave children, escape and spend several years living in the desert together. Dodola teaches Zam to read and tells him stories, which are interspersed throughout the novel. Then Dodola is kidnapped and sold to a harem and Zam is left to fend for himself, and they each have to learn to survive in their new circumstances while trying to find each other. Zam and Dodola are fantastic characters, and I loved the Quaran stories – the best part is when Dodola tells stories that also appear in the Old Testament, and my personal favorite was seeing the differences between the two versions of Abraham sacrificing his son. The story is told in shifting timelines, which was confusing at first, but I figured it out after a few pages, and did I mention that the drawings are gorgeous? Everyone should take a moment and read this review, which includes pictures from the novel. See what I mean? So despite what the next two sections are going to say, this is a really moving and beautiful story, and will stay with me for a long time. This is despite (or maybe because) of certain uncomfortable elements. Strap yourselves in and prepare for…THE BAD: as other reviewers have pointed out, this book has a lot of uncomfortably Orientalist elements. For a while, everything is going well: Dodola is a strong, educated woman who tells Zam stories from the Quaran and teaches him calligraphy. But then she gets kidnapped and thrown in a harem, and it all goes to hell as we’re transported into one of those 19th century paintings made by European men who had never even seen a harem. Considering how thoughtful and generally un-stereotypical the rest of Thompson’s portrayal of the Middle East is, it was a real disappointment to read the harem sections of the story and find that he didn’t even try to subvert or disprove the stereotypes and misconceptions. Instead, he just goes all-out with the fetishism of the harem and all the ugly stereotypes that go with it: The luxurious palace is full of scheming eunuchs and kindly black slaves, and the harem women are catty bitches who fight each other for the attention of the fat, lecherous sultan. Thompson commits so whole-heartedly to portraying every myth and misconception about harems that I almost suspect he did it on purpose (he spent six years researching this book; I would assume that at some point he learned that the story of sultans choosing which girl to sleep with by throwing his handkerchief at her was almost certainly made up by white men), but if that’s the case, I don’t see how it benefits his story. If this is a tongue-in-cheek mockery of Orientalist stereotypes, it’s too subtle for me to grasp. THE UGLY: This book is about a lot of things: love, religion, family, survival, freedom, courage, and sex. Really, it’s mostly about sex. The protagonist, Dodola, spends probably 60% of her story time having sex. Guess how many times that sex is consensual? ONE GODDAMN TIME IN 700 PAGES. Yeah.There is a lot of rape in this book, starting with the first few pages when nine-year-old Dodola is deflowered by her adult husband, and it only gets worse from there. Over 700 pages, Dodola is coerced into sex, forced to trade sex in order to survive, and straight-up pinned to the ground and violently raped, and Thompson draws these scenes in so much detail that reading them started to feel voyeuristic at best. At worst, Thompson seems to be eroticizing rape. And of course, because this is essentially a book about sex, that means there’s going to be a lot of naked people. Or, more accurately…TITS. TITS EVERYWHERE. TIT-SPLOSION. TIT-POCALYPSE. Tits knockers jugs ta-tas hooters boobies BREASTS ALL OVER THE DAMN PLACE. I would estimate that the page-to-tit ratio in this story is about 1:4. Just about every female character spends most of her time being topless, and Dodola herself is topless or just butt-ass naked for about 80% of the story. The good news is that with the sheer volume of bare breasts in this story, the book would make an absolutely stellar present for any 12-year-old boys you might know. Christmas is coming up, guys!I don’t want to give the impression that I’m offended by nudity. Far from it. However, I support equal-opportunity nudity, which means that if I have to spend my reading time looking at boobs, there had better be some dicks to balance things out. And that’s where this book ventures into awkward territory. On the rare occasions that penises make an appearance in the story, they’re drawn with about as much detail as that time in The Simpsons Movie when we see Bart’s junk for two seconds. (Female) pubic hair is shown exactly once, and every other time naked women appear they all seem to be freshly waxed, even if it makes no sense in the context of the story for them to be that way. So considering how some, shall we say, less-photogenic aspects of human sexuality are presented, it is staggering how much time Thompson spends drawing boobs. He won’t draw penises with anything close to anatomical accuracy and lets us see Dodola’s pubic hair only once, but he draws female characters' bare breasts so frequently, with so much loving detail and from every possible angle, that I could probably draw Dodola’s boobs from memory. But I can’t draw, so luckily we’re all spared that particular exercise.What results is, ultimately, not a celebration of human sexuality or even female sexuality. This is a celebration of WOOHOO TITTAYS, which seriously distracts from the overall amazingness of the actual story. So in conclusion: a beautiful, tragic story that is gorgeously drawn and very well-done, but ultimately there are too many problematic elements for me to be able to give this more than three stars. Should you read it anyway? Yes. But be prepared for some ugliness to come with the beautiful. Good Habibi By Craig Thompson go inside Books From the internationally acclaimed author of Blankets A triumph for the genre Library Journal , a highly anticipated new graphic novel 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 themFrom the internationally acclaimed author of Blankets A triumph for the genre Library Journal , a highly anticipated new graphic novel 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.. Craig Ringwalt Thompson b September 21, 1975 in Traverse City, Michigan is a graphic novelist best known for his 2003 work Blankets Thompson has received four Harvey Awards, two Eisner Awards, and two Ignatz Awards In 2007, his cover design for the Menomena album Friend and Foe received a Grammy nomination for Best Recording Package.. Good Book Habibi I don't usually read graphic novels, but on the recommendation of my roommate (and the fact that this is one beautiful-looking book) I started reading this. At first, I wasn't sure how to review it, because frankly I had a lot of conflicting feelings about it. Some parts I loved, some parts I hated, some parts I wonder if I just misunderstood. But it's okay, because that just means I was given an opportunity to write a review in what is, personally, my favorite reviewing style, which is:THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY. Aw yeah. Better use the bathroom and grab a snack, guys, we're gonna be here a while. THE GOOD: first, this is a gorgeous graphic novel. Every page is filled with details that I probably didn’t even notice because I was whipping through the story so fast (despite being 700 pages, you can get through this in a couple days because of all the pictures), and it made me want to go back and just look at the pages without noticing the words. And the story is equally wonderful: Dodola and Zam, brought together as slave children, escape and spend several years living in the desert together. Dodola teaches Zam to read and tells him stories, which are interspersed throughout the novel. Then Dodola is kidnapped and sold to a harem and Zam is left to fend for himself, and they each have to learn to survive in their new circumstances while trying to find each other. Zam and Dodola are fantastic characters, and I loved the Quaran stories – the best part is when Dodola tells stories that also appear in the Old Testament, and my personal favorite was seeing the differences between the two versions of Abraham sacrificing his son. The story is told in shifting timelines, which was confusing at first, but I figured it out after a few pages, and did I mention that the drawings are gorgeous? Everyone should take a moment and read this review, which includes pictures from the novel. See what I mean? So despite what the next two sections are going to say, this is a really moving and beautiful story, and will stay with me for a long time. This is despite (or maybe because) of certain uncomfortable elements. Strap yourselves in and prepare for…THE BAD: as other reviewers have pointed out, this book has a lot of uncomfortably Orientalist elements. For a while, everything is going well: Dodola is a strong, educated woman who tells Zam stories from the Quaran and teaches him calligraphy. But then she gets kidnapped and thrown in a harem, and it all goes to hell as we’re transported into one of those 19th century paintings made by European men who had never even seen a harem. Considering how thoughtful and generally un-stereotypical the rest of Thompson’s portrayal of the Middle East is, it was a real disappointment to read the harem sections of the story and find that he didn’t even try to subvert or disprove the stereotypes and misconceptions. Instead, he just goes all-out with the fetishism of the harem and all the ugly stereotypes that go with it: The luxurious palace is full of scheming eunuchs and kindly black slaves, and the harem women are catty bitches who fight each other for the attention of the fat, lecherous sultan. Thompson commits so whole-heartedly to portraying every myth and misconception about harems that I almost suspect he did it on purpose (he spent six years researching this book; I would assume that at some point he learned that the story of sultans choosing which girl to sleep with by throwing his handkerchief at her was almost certainly made up by white men), but if that’s the case, I don’t see how it benefits his story. If this is a tongue-in-cheek mockery of Orientalist stereotypes, it’s too subtle for me to grasp. THE UGLY: This book is about a lot of things: love, religion, family, survival, freedom, courage, and sex. Really, it’s mostly about sex. The protagonist, Dodola, spends probably 60% of her story time having sex. Guess how many times that sex is consensual? ONE GODDAMN TIME IN 700 PAGES. Yeah.There is a lot of rape in this book, starting with the first few pages when nine-year-old Dodola is deflowered by her adult husband, and it only gets worse from there. Over 700 pages, Dodola is coerced into sex, forced to trade sex in order to survive, and straight-up pinned to the ground and violently raped, and Thompson draws these scenes in so much detail that reading them started to feel voyeuristic at best. At worst, Thompson seems to be eroticizing rape. And of course, because this is essentially a book about sex, that means there’s going to be a lot of naked people. Or, more accurately…TITS. TITS EVERYWHERE. TIT-SPLOSION. TIT-POCALYPSE. Tits knockers jugs ta-tas hooters boobies BREASTS ALL OVER THE DAMN PLACE. I would estimate that the page-to-tit ratio in this story is about 1:4. Just about every female character spends most of her time being topless, and Dodola herself is topless or just butt-ass naked for about 80% of the story. The good news is that with the sheer volume of bare breasts in this story, the book would make an absolutely stellar present for any 12-year-old boys you might know. Christmas is coming up, guys!I don’t want to give the impression that I’m offended by nudity. Far from it. However, I support equal-opportunity nudity, which means that if I have to spend my reading time looking at boobs, there had better be some dicks to balance things out. And that’s where this book ventures into awkward territory. On the rare occasions that penises make an appearance in the story, they’re drawn with about as much detail as that time in The Simpsons Movie when we see Bart’s junk for two seconds. (Female) pubic hair is shown exactly once, and every other time naked women appear they all seem to be freshly waxed, even if it makes no sense in the context of the story for them to be that way. So considering how some, shall we say, less-photogenic aspects of human sexuality are presented, it is staggering how much time Thompson spends drawing boobs. He won’t draw penises with anything close to anatomical accuracy and lets us see Dodola’s pubic hair only once, but he draws female characters' bare breasts so frequently, with so much loving detail and from every possible angle, that I could probably draw Dodola’s boobs from memory. But I can’t draw, so luckily we’re all spared that particular exercise.What results is, ultimately, not a celebration of human sexuality or even female sexuality. This is a celebration of WOOHOO TITTAYS, which seriously distracts from the overall amazingness of the actual story. So in conclusion: a beautiful, tragic story that is gorgeously drawn and very well-done, but ultimately there are too many problematic elements for me to be able to give this more than three stars. Should you read it anyway? Yes. But be prepared for some ugliness to come with the beautiful.

About Author

  1. Craig Ringwalt Thompson b September 21, 1975 in Traverse City, Michigan is a graphic novelist best known for his 2003 work Blankets Thompson has received four Harvey Awards, two Eisner Awards, and two Ignatz Awards In 2007, his cover design for the Menomena album Friend and Foe received a Grammy nomination for Best Recording Package.

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Habibi Comment

  1. I don t usually read graphic novels, but on the recommendation of my roommate and the fact that this is one beautiful looking book I started reading this At first, I wasn t sure how to review it, because frankly I had a lot of conflicting feelings about it Some parts I loved, some parts I hated, some parts I wonder if I just misunderstood But it s okay, because that just means I was given an opportunity to write a review in what is, personally, my favorite reviewing style, which is THE GOOD, THE [...]


  2. A couple weeks ago, I read and reviewed Chester Brown s Paying For It, a book singularly concerned with separating love from sex Brown forwards the idea that fewer problems arise if we segregate sex as completely as we can from the relational sphere He does this to such an extent that he proposes that sex is a pleasure best paid for and made entirely transactional It s not spoiling anything to say that Brown, as he represents himself in the book, is wholly concerned with sex than he is with rel [...]


  3. It s just too bad This book is conceived in a truly spectacular way, and visually, it succeeds and succeeds and succeeds Even at its most whimsical and farflung, the stories of the prophets and the references to mysticism thread elegantly through the narrative Thompson has a knack for portraying themes through symbolism in an elaborate, poignant manner The book was at its best, actually, during these side stories The basic narrative is, rather literally, fucked The theme of the story is commodif [...]


  4. Yay for Orientalism My beef with Thompson is about his staggering Orientalism, which I ll get to shortly.Themes of longing and survival permeate Habibi The protagonists, Zam and Dodola, long for each other, likening this to a yearning for the Divine Middle Eastern poets have done this for centuries Zam and Dodola endure horrible events in the name of survival, perhaps tying in with Thompson s conservationist theme by implying that our disregard for the earth is tantamount to rape and castration [...]


  5. I picked up this mind boggling graphic novel on a whim, and I ll forever be grateful for that My head felt like a spaceship right after finishing Prepare for this to change your perception and the way you think about everything.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 unl [...]



  6. Habibi means Beloved in Arabic.Which made me think of Toni Morrison when I first laid eyes on the graphic art album By the end of the journey it turned out that my initial fancyful association was not so far fetched and random as I expected Because this is a story about pain and suffering among the dispossessed, the persecuted, the enslaved It is also a story about strength and faith in the most cruel circumstances, about the things that unite us and help us make it through the night Religion be [...]


  7. Habibi is a laboriously gorgeous comic, with beautiful drawings, inks and atmosphere Ever since Craig Thompson announced it on his blog years ago, I had been really excited I had loved Goodbye Chunky Rice, liked Blankets, and was sure that Thompson would craft a beautiful story with all the care that it would require It s a real shame that it s a hopelessly orientalist narrative with virtually every other ism you can think of added in with bonus writing that really isn t that great We spend 672 [...]


  8. SpoilersAbsolutely awful, one of the most rage inducing things I ve ever read I don t even know where to begin, there were that many fucked up things about it Random, rambly thoughts Habibi was a ridiculously offensive graphic novel filled with nothing but racist, sexist, orientalist, misogynistic rubbish Then there was the glorification of abuse and rape running throughout, the main character couldn t go at least a couple of pages without being naked, raped or victimised The story itself was sh [...]


  9. I am just sad and very upset, ignorant and shallow orientalism go through this book from start to finish The artwork is amazing, although I hate it when arabic calligraphy is misused as a decor and with random meaningless letters The elaborate usage of religious stories that had nothing to do with the ideologies in the book and its storyline that were further exploited sometimes by misinterpretations was just too much for me Overall it s overwhelming and not in a good way, as a Muslim woman I fe [...]


  10. I can t recommend this book enough This graphic novel is a testament to the fact that the physical book should never die Habibi is a work of art full of Arabic calligraphy, bleeding pages and detailed imagery that is both Arab and African, modern and ancient And equally as exquisite, compelling and daring is the book s story of two slaves, one African and one Arab and how the world shapes, destroys, and evolves them THE Best Book of 2011.


  11. I tried, really really hard I tried, but Habibi has defeated me I simply cannot help myself, I put Richie Rich s face on the men and Veronica s on the women Graphic novel remains, for me, a term of art without substantive affect on my vision To me, they re comic books, and I didn t ever like comic books.So sorry I ll go now This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


  12. This is a gorgeous book, from cover to cover and all the illustrations and calligraphy in between I wasn t sure in the beginning that I would like it, but I quickly found I did, and then the pages turned quickly as well.In the beginning, because of the age of one of the main characters at the start, I naively thought the story was set in the past, but not too far into it, I realized the time is now And because of that, the story is relevant, as regards the treatment of females, of those who are [...]


  13. I couldn t review this book until I came up with a suitably convoluted metaphor This book is like being hit by a pillow shot by artillery at great range There s a lot of noise on delivery, it takes forever to hit you, and when you do there s a lot of mixed feelings, but mostly just confusion, annoyance, and uncertainty about what exactly the point was.In opposition to what Craig Thompson may or may not be discouraging you from doing maybe , I m going to make a broad stereotype A person raised in [...]


  14. This is a difficult book to rate If I were rating on the artwork alone, I would give it four or five stars Thompson s penwork is outstanding He has grown as an artist over the course of his career, and he started at a pretty decent level too Gorgeous design work, beautifully composed panels Not Thompson s, but the hardcover edition is itself beautifully designed and a pleasure to hold.Unfortunately, I don t think the story is quite equal to the art It s very good, probably better than my three s [...]


  15. In an interview Craig Thompson told his audience that artists must become vulnerable if their work is to mean anything This dark and agonized work has a great deal of nakedness in it, both literally and figuratively, and a lot of staring directly at human experience and trying to make sense of it It also looks with a colder, dispassionate and assessing eye at the overlap in the religious teachings of Christianity and Islam.This is Thompson s fourth published work, and one glance inside gives so [...]


  16. I can t remember the last time my thoughts were divided so cleanly in half when considering a book I d read For every so, I had a but to countermand it The synthesis of these opposing opinions, it seems, is a middling rating but I wouldn t say that it s any sort of mediocre book.So The initial reaction I have, at a gut level said gut having been conditioned by too much school and cultural theory , is to go running to find Edward Said s ghost and show him what this guy did How, really, is this bo [...]


  17. Triggers in this wonderful book Habibi means many things in Arabic, a term of endearment to others, but I like to use it to mean beloved And this book is habibi to me This novel is set in an Islamic state, but not historical, rather current, but of a mythical place, and it follows Dodola and Zam, child slaves as they escape ad try to find each other once It is basically a love story, but with so much depth, and what humanity causes,suffering, faith, and culture and its divides According to Gr [...]


  18. Wow I am speechless at the talent Craig Thompson has One review called this a masterpiece and I have to agree it truly is.There s a lot of nudity and sexual situations, including prostitution, rape, and castration, so this is a warning for people who are not okay with that There is also what I would consider mental incest between the two main characters.Although of the two, I think I still love Blankets although at the time I believe I gave it four stars , Habibi is epic in proportion the story [...]


  19. I thinkthe review from The Guardian really explains my reaction to this book the best The artwork is beautiful But the lack of a specific location and time period really weakens the story and characters allowing neither to fully take off nor grow So instead as I read I kept waiting to fully understand the scope of all that was happening and the reason it was written drawn as it was only to find nuggets and glimmers without the satisfaction that existed in Blankets fully developed concept.That be [...]


  20. 20 for Jugs Capes Holy balls, this book is so phenomenal I put it on my CCLaP best of 2011 list, and here s what I said there My hopes for this one were pretty low, as I d found Blankets to be flaccid and hokey and saccharine and generally pretty boring Habibi, though, is downright spectacular The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous, complex and inventive and enthralling The story is huge and sweeping, a sad tale of two people with insanely awful lives who find each other and save each other o [...]


  21. Whereas Blankets is sort of sweet and simple and anguished, a story of a summer love and all its complications, religious and philosophical and aesthetic, Habibi takes place over decades, and deals with the relationship between Christianity and Islam, environmental disaster and yes, love What this arthritic genius had to do to learn and enact Arabic art and language to delve into deeper aspects of religion, so impressive Sometimes I felt he was biting off than he could chew, as I always feel wh [...]



  22. Habibi has 672 pages and yet I ve read it in one sitting Is there really anything to add It was poignant, heartbreaking, horrifying and breathtakingly beautiful at the same time.The story isn t linear but it s relatively easy to follow the jumps in narrative and time Thompson adds a lot of side stories from The Quran, which were interesting and added to the story and to the message it carries Here religion plays a vital role, but it is shown as the way of healing and hope, rather than in its ne [...]


  23. Habibi is perhaps the greatest example of beautifully executed trash It is the Prometheus of graphic novels Never have I seen such a detailed and intricately presented comic that appears to have been conceived and written over a matter of ten drunken, ethnocentric minutes It is a delicious Swedish pastry with crumbly, honey drizzled walnuts on top filled with dog shit Blacking out the lines of dialogue in this book would help it IMMENSELY.Why Well, here s why First off, the setting is a complete [...]



  24. Thompson je ve s Dekicama pokazao da je odli an pripovjeda , a ovdje je sam sebe nadma io.Habibi je pri a o odrastanju Dodole i Zama koji poku avaju na i sre u u okrutnom svijetu ropstva, zlostavljanja i eksploatacije Thompson je pri u za inio mistikom i u nju upleo mitove iz Kurana Uz aljive opaske istaknuo je i kako se pri e o Noinoj arki, Jobovoj sudbini i Abrahamovoj rtvi vlastitog sina opisane u Kuranu razlikuju od onih u Bibliji.Pri a je to i o tome kako je cijena napretka uvijek na ne iju [...]


  25. Read this graphic novel in one day half of it in the morning and the other half in the afternoon In essence it s a love story of sorts, with a very heavy religious theme which is a little forced into the story I wasn t convinced of its role I didn t find it as spectacular as I had heard The graphic novel is well drawn and it s a beautiful hardcover book, however the story was meh, too repetitive It has too much rape and poor treatment of women in it for my taste So if you are sensitive to rape a [...]


  26. Prvo sam mislila da ostavim Habibi bez rivjua po to se u strip ni malo ne razumem, ali sam se onda setila da u ta se pa i razumem, sve su samo li ni utisci pa evo.Habibi je jedna od naj udnijih stvari na svetu Toliko je kompleksan da mi uop te nije jasno odakle je autor krenuo da bi na kraju zavr io sa ovako jednim delom Pri a stalno ide napred nazad kroz vreme, se anja, pri e, snove, mitoveObjedinjuje i miri hri anstvo i islam, moderno i tradicionalno, crno i belo ljubavlju E sad, da ne bi bilo [...]


  27. Set in a fictional country in what seems to be the Middle East, a 6 year old girl called Dodola is sold by her poverty stricken parents to a calligrapher to be his wife The man is brutally murdered and the girl is stolen and sold into slavery She saves an infant boy from certain death by claiming him as her own and then later escaping with him to live on an abandoned ship in the middle of the desert She names him Habibi The two of them manage to survive for a few years by Dodola prostituting her [...]


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