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”

Cloudy with a Chance of Manga: “Sunny” by Taiyo Matsumoto

A version of this post was originally published in the “Elkhart Truth” in August or September of 2014. Volume Six of “Sunny” was released in November 2016 to complete the series.

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.

Not much is sunny at Star Kids Home, the Japanese foster home where Taiyo Matsumoto’s “Sunny” is set. This series is much closer to “Little Orphan Annie” than to “Sesame Street,” but without either the wealthy benefactor or the clear-cut villains. Most of the young residents of Star Kids Home have living parents unable to care for them, but for unexplained reasons. Continue reading “Cloudy with a Chance of Manga: “Sunny” by Taiyo Matsumoto”

“The Leg,” by Van Jensen and Jose Pimienta

National Hispanic Heritage month just ended, so although I’m a bit slow on the uptake, here’s a new addition to my archives, a review originally posted by the Elkhart Truth on December 1, 2015.

Warning: Beware the bad puns.

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

Author Van Jensen and illustrator Jose Pimienta  had some trouble finding a publisher for their graphic novel “The Leg.” Part of the problem was the story’s hero: as their Kickstarter video pitched it, the protagonist is “the strangest hero comics has ever seen.” Continue reading ““The Leg,” by Van Jensen and Jose Pimienta”