Habibi

By Craig Thompson

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Pantheon Books, 2011

Genres: General fiction, mythic fiction

Format: Graphic novel

ISBN: 9780375424144

Audience: Adult

Number of pages: 665 (672 includes notes and author description)

Setting: A Middle-eastern desert, an unnamed village, and Wanatolia

Time period: No set time period –seems like the past, present, and future all at once

Plot summary: Dodola adopts Zam when he is three years old and she is thirteen.  Although she is young, she has already been married, witnessed the slaying of her husband, and been kidnapped to be sold into slavery.  She manages to escape from the slavers with Zam and takes him into the desert to raise him.  When Zam turns thirteen, their world is shattered when they become lost to one another.  After years of separation, their love for one another eventually brings them back together.

Illustrations:  Intricate black and white drawings

Appeal factors:

Pacing: Very fast paced.

Characterization: The story is told in both first and third person perspectives.  The primary perspective is from  Dodola, although readers are also given Zam’s perspective.  Stories from both the Qur’an and Bible are interwoven with the larger story.

Language: Habibi is written in English, but incorporates Arabic letters to tells stories within stories.

Frame: The title sets the frame –  habibi means beloved.  Love frames the story.

Story line: A fairy tale set in both ancient and contemporary Arab worlds that examines issues of social injustice, environmental degradation, and some commonalities between Christian and Islamic cultures.

Subject headings:

From Pima County Public Library:

Slaves — Comic books, strips, etc.

Refugees — Comic books, strips, etc.

Interpersonal relations — Comic books, strips, etc.

Comic books, strips, etc. — United States.

Graphic novels.

Graphic novels.

Similar works:  I haven’t found any graphic novels  which could really be called similar. 

Personal notes:  Wow!  This book is a masterpiece.  The art and story are both utterly amazing .  I can truly say that I’ve never read anything like this.  I’ve read other beautiful stories about love and healing, but not one that is graphically depicted in the style which Thompson uses, while also educating me about aspects of Islamic history and culture.  Wow.

Other: Diversity – orphans, refugees, slaves, child wives, eunuchs, Arabs, Blacks, sultan, poor villagers

Craig Thompson’s website

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