“March: Book Three,” by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

Re-posted from February 2018, in honor of MLK Jr. Day tomorrow. See links below for reviews of Book One and Book Two. If you haven’t read any of these yet, look for the Top Shelf boxed set of the whole trilogy.

“March: Book Three,” by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. 192 pages, Top Shelf Productions, Aug. 2016. Paperback, $19.99, 8th grade and up.

Thanks to Better World Books, 215 S. Main St. in Goshen, for providing me with books to review. You can find all of these books at the store.

U.S. Representative John Lewis, who narrates the conclusion of his civil rights journey in “March: Book Three,” has been arrested at least 45 times, most recently in a 2013 rally for immigration rights. As one of the founders of the Civil Rights Movement and the last surviving speaker of the 1963 March on Washington—which culminated in Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech—Lewis remains an advocate for getting in trouble. He calls this type of trouble “necessary trouble,” imperative when something in society is “not right, not fair, not just.” Continue reading ““March: Book Three,” by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell”

“The Arab of the Future 3: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1985-1987,” by Riad Sattouf

“The Arab of the Future 3: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1985-1987,” by Riad Sattouf. Metropolitan Books. Aug. 2018. Translated from French by Sam Taylor. 160 pp. Paper, $27. Adult.

Thanks to Better World Books, 215 S. Main St. in Goshen, for providing me with books to review. You can find or order all of the books I review at the store.

Many readers who love humor have a tendency to condescend to it, to see it as superficial. Franco-Syrian comics artist Riad Sattouf, however, dismisses this stereotype. “It’s very easy to make a drama. I prefer to make something funny out of a drama,” he told The Guardian in 2016, after the release of the first volume of his five-part series, “The Arab of the Future.”  “I think sad things are easier to accept and are even sadder when they’re told with humour.”

A rich and wrenching graphic memoir of Sattouf’s childhood, “The Arab of the Future” is set in Libya, small-town Syria, and France in the 70s and 80s. Sattouf packs complex emotional and historical resonance into a handful of colors and a simple-looking style. Volume three, released in the U.S. last August, hits readers full force on its first page with equal parts humor and tension:

Continue reading ““The Arab of the Future 3: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1985-1987,” by Riad Sattouf”

Review: “Algeria Is Beautiful Like America,” by Olivia Burton and Mahi Grand

Algeria Is Beautiful Like America,” by Olivia Burton, illustrated by Mahi Grand. Trans. Edward Gauvin. 176 pages, Lion Forge, April 2018. Hardcover, list price $24.99.

Thanks to Better World Books, 215 S. Main St. in Goshen, for providing me with books to review. You can find or order all of the books I review at the store.

Travel memoirs are a difficult genre to write well. The worst ones devolve into solipsism: too much about the narrator’s emotional landscape, when it’s likely the landscape of the location that drew the reader to the book in the first place. Yet the author can’t back off too much, lest the book desiccate into a daily calendar of events, or worse, a mere guidebook.

This balance between narration and location becomes trickiest on contested ground. “Algeria Is Beautiful Like America,” written by Olivia Burton and illustrated by Mahi Grand, was originally released three years ago in France, where a complicated colonial history with Algeria lives very much in the present. Newly translated and released in the US this past April by Lion Forge, the book explores Algeria through the lens of Burton’s family history—a lens that doesn’t always make for a pretty picture. Continue reading “Review: “Algeria Is Beautiful Like America,” by Olivia Burton and Mahi Grand”