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Habibi [Hardcover]

Craig Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 44.00
Price: CDN$ 27.59 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

Sept. 20 2011 Habibi
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 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.

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Review

“The character depth, plot complexity, and storytelling in this lyrical, sexual, and scholarly epic would make any novelist proud…Thompson strings compositions that are often more tapestry than comics and that balance graphic design, illumination, calligraphy, and cartooning in steady alignment. It is unfair to expect two masterpieces in a row from anyone, but here Thompson sits securely in that rarefied air.” –Booklist, starred review

“A lushly epic love story that's both inspiring and heartbreaking…In addition to richly detailed story panels, the gorgeous Arabic ornamental calligraphy makes each page an individual work of art. A dense, swirling dervish of a tale…this will be the most talked about graphic novel of the fall.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review   

“The exquisite beauty and deep magic of this Arabian Nights-style love story cannot be overstated...Habibi is certain to join the ranks of graphic novels that expand our understanding of not only the genre but also the world it describes.” –Library Journal, starred review 

Habibi lifts the bar of graphic storytelling to new heights, both by the intricate, dramatic density and breathtaking scholar­ship of Thompson’s panels and by the sheer scale and decorative beauty of his flowing, roiling, protean style. Thompson is the Charles Dickens of the genre, able to capture all the scary, heartbreaking, brave, uplifting details of his characters’ fates while orchestrating the big-picture machinations that connect them to the lives and times of his readers…Habibi is a masterpiece that surely is one of a kind.” –Elle Magazine   
 
“A graphic novel that is sure to attract attention…A mature—in all its meanings—glimpse into a world few Westerners are at home with, and Thompson is respectful throughout.” -Kirkus

“Exquisite…HABIBI is a remarkable feat of research, care, and black ink, and a reminder that all "People of the book," despite the division of their individual traditions, share a mosaic of stories.” –Zadie Smith, Harper’s Magazine

Habibi has classic written all over it. It’s a modern literary triumph, a book so broad and magical in its scope, only a master could pull it off. This is no ordinary comic, it is a complete work of art. Beautiful, thought provoking, both timeless and of its time…An awe-inspiring read you can’t afford to miss” –Grovel, graphic novel reviews    
 
“Easily the best graphic novel of the year, and probably the decade…Thompson’s line work here is beyond brilliant, combining myriad styles and capturing the rich historical legacy of the cultural and religious volumes that inspired it. This is a work that truly changes the game and sets a new standard for all the graphic novels that follow it.” –GraphicNovelReporter.com

"Craig Thompson's new graphic novel, Habibi, is a masterpiece. This isn't an opinion. This book is a gorgeous object; to make it, Thompson apparently covered himself in honey and rolled around in a thousand years of Arabic calligraphy and Islamic art, and the result is breathtaking.” -The Boston Phoenix

“Erotic, grotesque, and profoundly moving…I don’t think I’ve ever read a book quite like this, and I expect I’ll be thinking about it for a long, long time.” –Boing Boing

“Layered, daring, and brilliantly told—an intricate story of love, religion, desire, survival, poverty, hope. It’s drenched in metaphor and rich with double meanings. Yet for all it takes on, Habibi feels light on its feet; throughout, we feel Thompson reveling in his skills as a writer and artist. Its exuberance, even in its darkest moments, feels somehow celebratory. I’m not sure that I’ve read a better graphic novel…Thompson’s own work is manically elaborate and ingeniously laid out; he’s become expert at moving the eye through exploding, dexterous panels.” –The Millions 
 
“Mere words—or at least my mere words—seemed not enough to even try to convey just how intricate and ornate, lush and seductive, arabesque and sometimes knowingly grotesque this artistic epic is…a visual masterpiece.” –Comic Riffs, Washington Post blog

“Like the elegantly dense mosaic patterns that Thompson fills the background of his pages with, Habibi is a book that weaves isolated shapes into an overpowering tableaux, its pieces carefully fit together and subtly repeated until a gorgeous unity emerges.” –National Post

“Relentlessly virtuosic... It is a tribute to Thompson's skill as a cartoonist that the transition from an old fashioned Orient to modern Babylon leaves few visual seams." –New York Times Book Review

“While the storytelling is gripping, surprising, and emotionally and intellectually hard-hitting, it almost takes a back seat to the artwork that is alternately robust and fragile. Thompson's deft, assured lines have never been more delicately and profoundly inked than here…This book is a monument of intelligent, vibrant design, all in service to the story.” –Barnes and Noble review

“Brilliantly imagined…celebrates the power of the artist to tell a story with ink teased into magisterial letters and visual images.” –Newsweek  
 
“Thompson makes a good third of the other illustrators out there look like total chumps. Each page is carefully designed with recurring motifs–that draw from sources like the Qur’an and other storytelling traditions–to add multiple layers of meaning to every moment. Scenes of city life and vast endless oceans of sand are drawn with such attention to detail that you’ll be staggered imagining a human being crafting the images with human hands and commonly available tools…It’s a story told with technical precision and real, honest-to-gosh passion, and if you cry at the end it won’t be because you’ve been successfully manipulated–it’ll be because this world and these characters have come to mean something to you, and you’ll miss them once you reach the final page.” –Richmond News 

 “If you haven’t been exposed to the work of Craig Thompson yet, you have been deprived of a true aesthetic experience…To say the work is visually stunning is an understatement. Thompson’s art is simple black and white inking, yet his ink strokes convey a sense of live movement as if you’re watching the characters move across the page…don’t dismiss Habibi as a book of pretty pictures. While the artwork is incredible, Craig Thompson’s Habibi is a book that will affect your heart.” –Wit and Fancy blog site
 
“Artistically, it's the most gorgeous book I read this year, with compositions and layouts weaving together effortlessly and with endless depth and detail…an outrageous success, and worth every bit of time Thompson spent on it. As great as this year was in comics, Habibi might have been the best thing I read in all of comics all year, and it makes me all the more excited to see what Thompson will be up to next.” –MultiversityComics.com, “Best Graphic Novel of the 2011”

“The intricacy of patterns and motifs (both visible and metaphorical) hold the text together and astound in their complexity. In the world of Habibi, art is never divorced from meaning; drawings are symbolic verse, words twisted into new shapes…Habibi is about the power of words to carry and envelop us, and in Thompson’s beautifully written novel, the reader experiences a similar magic.” –ALARM Press

Habibi is a confident, powerfully drawn graphic novel, telling its tale with passion, humor and an endless understanding of the human condition…A graphic novel masterpiece that explores what it means to be human through religious story, slavery, prostitution and personal and societal struggles within the industrial and third worlds.” –Shelf Awareness, starred review
 
A lush commentary on love and lust, wealth and want, religion and storytelling…the power in this tale lies in human passion, sometimes cruel and sometimes sweet, combined with its geometric precision and deep sense of the sacred.” –Harvard Crimson
 
“Lushly illustrated, at times unbearably sad and unexpectedly erotic.” –Paste Magazine

“To read Habibi is to sink into the sensuous arabesque patterns that decorate its pages. Steeped in the imagery and storytelling traditions of the Muslim world, this densely layered love story is as grand and sustained a performance as any cartoonist has published…Thompson’s fluid, evocative artwork is pretty miraculous too.” –Time Magazine 
 
“Habibi is like a big, rousing, unabashedly tear-jerking Dumas novel, with fascinatingly intricate designs and fabulous tales on almost every page.” –Salon
 
“It’s impossible to read this book and not walk away with a deeper, more profound understanding or appreciation for not both Arab culture and for the subtle and varied ways in which populations portrayed as enemies are in fact alike. Thanks to Thompson’s deft storytelling, ‘Habibi’s’ seemingly daunting 700-plus pages can go by in a breeze; you won’t want them to, though, b...

About the Author

CRAIG THOMPSON’s previous graphic novels include Blankets (for which he received three Harvey Awards for Best Artist, Best Graphic Album of Original Work, and Best Cartoonist; and two Eisner Awards for Best Graphic Album and Best Writer/Artist); Goodbye, Chunky Rice; and Carnet de Voyage. He lives in Portland, Oregon.


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and moving story Nov. 13 2011
Format:Hardcover
Coming from the author of "Blankets," the intimate story of a first love, this sprawling, 700 page epic of the Arabian desert was an unexpected departure. And it wasn't subject matter that would normally draw me in, either. But this graphic novel of a love between two child slaves left me gobsmacked. It is a truly stunning artistic achievement as well as a brilliant and moving story.

This love story spans years and is set down amidst an exploration of religion, culture and language without it feeling overly didactic or at all pedantic. A combination of imagery, calligraphy, symbology and simply great characters "drawn" with a sure hand. Eisner, Harvey, Ignatz... here comes Craig Thompson again. He is on fire in this master work of art, of literature and of pure story. Can't recommend highly enough.

Mild spoiler warning: the book tricked me with its opening into thinking it was a historical piece, harkening back to the days of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves or Prince of Persia. It proved to be a modern context, reflective of our contemporary social and environmental condition. Quite a reversal of expectations, which comes on the reader gradually.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Work of Art Jan. 1 2014
By Peter Cantelon TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
I received Craig Thompson's graphic novel Habibi as a Christmas gift this year. Ever since I read his Blankets I have been tracking him and so when Habibi was released I absolutely wanted to get it (so it was an awesome gift).

I essentially consumed the whole 600 plus pages in one day. Before I get into the review I should say a few things - I have read other reviews of the book already. Typically I do not do this but I wanted to get a sense or the reception of such an unusual creation.

Broadly speaking critics have widely praised the technical excellence of the art and drawing Thompson has achieved with Habibi. Critics are more divided however on the content in terms of story.

Habibi is a story filled with tragedy, allegory, metaphor, love and desire influenced heavily by the style and art of Arabic script. The story is also substantially influenced by the Quar'an and Islamic culture.
There is no sense of time in Habibi having a blend of past and present influences. The story is set in a fantasy version of our own world that serves to act as a satirical vehicle for commentary on themes of environmental stewardship, anti-consumerism, racism, misogyny, sexism, gender intolerance and a strong voice against a the current growing disparity between the wealthy and the poor and all the suffering that goes with that. Through it all Islam also serves as a representative of all three major middle eastern faiths being influenced by both Judaism and Christianity. Throughout the text Thompson keeps his critical voice free of hate and treats the subjust of religion and faith with deep respect in the form of his main characters Dodola and Zam.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good Dec 26 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Wasn't expecting much from this. I usually prefer artists like say Travis Charest, Juan Gimenez, Ashley Wood, etc. and steer well clear of artists with a more graphic approach, but Thompson pulls some interesting tricks in the one. It was also a departure from the story-lines I might usually pick-up but the book managed to remind me of growing up in North Africa (although being set in a "parody-world") and I quite liked the whole read. The only con might be the moral/religious undertone you'll find throughout, although given the context it sort of smooths-over.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing art style Oct. 5 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It's shocking how much detail Craig Thompson has poured into this book. The art style is absolutely stunning, and the story ain't half bad either.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A work of art. Jan. 14 2012
Format:Hardcover
Fascinating. This is the first graphic novel I have read and I am stunned by the research that went into this work. A sometimes dreamy but unblinking mix of history and contemporary issues surround the story line, it was one of those books that you don't want to put down.
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