LJ Best Books 2016

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Graphic Novels from Dori, Sabaaneh, and Wolf | Xpress Reviews

Week ending February 24, 2017

starred review starDori, Fabrizio. Gauguin: The Other World. SelfMadeHero. (Art Masters). Mar. 2017. 144p. ISBN 9781910593271. pap. $19.95. ART/BIOG
gauguin022417Independent UK publisher SelfMadeHero produces some of the most creative and beautifully drawn comics around, and this latest addition to the popular “Art Masters” series is no exception. Here, Italian artist Dori (Uno in diviso) captures the early impressionistic and postimpressionistic or primitivist painting style of French artist Paul Gauguin (1848–1903). He chronicles Gauguin’s striking yet commercially unsuccessful art; his travels from Europe to Tahiti, where his avant-garde style was born; his various relationships with women, many of whom inspired his works; and his life as an artist never fully appreciated in his lifetime. Yet beyond being a biography, Dori’s study weaves in the mythology of the islands that influenced the painter’s passions, rendered with sumptuous colors. Engrossing from start to finish, this account will draw the attention of anyone interested in the trials and tribulations of a flawed yet highly influential innovator.
Verdict Suitable for both teens and adults, this book deserves high praise for introducing readers to an artist who paved the way for such luminaries as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, and Henri Matisse.—Lucy Roehrig, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI

Sabaaneh, Mohammad. White & Black: Political Cartoons from Palestine. Just World. May 2017. 196p. ISBN 9781682570678. pap. $19.95. POL SCI
The idea for this first book from Palestinian political cartoonist Sabaaneh (Arab American Univ.; Al-Hayat al-Jadida newspaper) took shape over the course of the two weeks he spent in solitary confinement in an Israeli prison. Held for “administrative detention,” a provision of the military laws that allows Israel to detain indigenous Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, Sabaaneh reflected on the stories his mother told him about the Palestinian fedayeen (freedom fighters) and meditated on the lives of political prisoners. White & Black offers a candid look into the experiences of a political prisoner as portrayed on both the localized level and as a larger societal movement. Working across a chronological time line, the author presents individual cartoons that tell a complete story and provide intimate, humanizing detail of real-life struggles of which not all Western readers may be aware.
Verdict While the subject and format don’t always create a cohesive whole, this is a solid introduction to a different social and political climate.—Cassidy Charles, Madison P.L., NJ

Wolf, Tikva. Love, Retold. Thorntree. May 2017. 96p. ISBN 9781944934170. pap. $17.99. GRAPHIC NOVELS
This debut graphic novel by writer/artist Wolf explores love and its evolution when traditional definitions are removed and individuals are allowed to experience the emotion organically and personally, in their own unique way. This idea of love can manifest itself in romantic relationships with multiple, consenting adult partners; between monogamous lovers; or even through the deep affection of best friends or soul mates. As Wolf writes, “Love doesn’t just happen to us. Love is a verb.” The author’s webcomic, Kimchi Cuddles, centers on spreading awareness about polyamory, queer, and genderqueer issues in real and humorous ways. She uses humor to persuade readers to explore both themselves and others in order to understand the depth of human connection.
Verdict At times clunky and with an illustrative style that won’t appeal to everyone, Love, Retold is for wistful adult readers who meditate on their own past loves and what could have been—and what might be for future relationships.—Cassidy Charles, Madison P.L., NJ

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