Habibi by Craig Thompson - A Review

HabibiHabibi by Craig Thompson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

At 672 pages, this is probably the longest graphic novel I have read, but one can’t go just by the page count, I finished it within 24 hours of acquiring the book from a friend. Yes, it was that engaging.

The book portrays the complicated relationship of two child slaves who meet by chance, grow up together, get separated and meet again, all this while craving for each other’s company while facing the hardship of the world. The story is set in an Arabian land as could be guessed from the title and the book is full of symbolism related to the Quran and other Arabic texts. Much frequently, the author compares the common origins of Christianity and Islam by contrasting the stories from their religious texts to life events of Dodola and Zam. The book’s setting feels contemporary as we see modern vehicles, structures and industry but we also see a Sultan, his palace and its harem; one would keep guessing the times the story is set in.

Artwork is impressive and the book uses beautiful calligraphy in most panels related to portrayal of religious symbols and architecture of the palace. At places, the author helps the reader understand how Arabic script works so those unfamiliar with the script are not totally lost.

This book also serves as my first introduction to the teachings of Quran. I knew about some biblical stories from TV & movies (Noah, most recently) and that Christianity is somehow related to Islam but hardly had any knowledge about the Quran itself.

Full 5 stars for the captivating story, faultless depiction of characters & their circumstances, detailed but beautiful artwork and non-linear but sensible style of storytelling.

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