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Tag: Yasmina Khadra

Graphic Novels I Read in 2021: Santa Claus, Norse Myths, the Palestinian Conflict, an Indian Robin Hood & More

I am not a big reader of graphic novels but I do read half a dozen or so each year.  Rather than review each one individually, because I don’t have a lot to say, I thought I would collect them in one post.  I thought they were all interesting reads for different reasons. Some from authors/creators I am familiar with, some that just caught my eye at the library.

Klaus by Grant Morrison, Dan Mora (Illustrations)

Publisher:

He’s a myth. He’s a legend. He’s loved worldwide by children and adults alike . . . but does anyone truly know the origins of Santa Claus? Set in a dark fantastic past of myth and magic, Klaus tells the origin story of Santa Claus. It’s the tale of one man and his wolf against a totalitarian state and the ancient evil that sustains it.

Award-winning author Grant Morrison (All-Star Superman, The Multiversity) and artist Dan Mora (Hexed) revamp, reinvent, and re-imagine a classic superhero for the 21st century, drawing on Santa’s roots in Viking lore and Siberian shamanism, and taking in the creepier side of Christmas with characters like the sinister Krampus. Klaus finally answers the burning question: what does Santa Claus do on the other 364 days a year?

My take:

Picked this up on a whim while picking up another book at the library. I frequently enjoy reading a graphic novel as a sort of palette cleanser or if I am struggling to get into the pile of books I am supposed to be reading. I enjoyed this mythical tale of the “real” Santa Klaus. Dark but not too dark, a sort of blend of medieval fairy tale and comic book hero. Quick and unique but enjoyable Yule time read.

Norse Mythology, Volume 1 by Neil Gaiman

Publisher:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman and Eisner Award-winning comics legend P. Craig Russell breathe new life into the ancient Norse stories in this comic-book adaptation of the hit novel Norse Mythology .

Gaiman and Russell team with a legendary collection of artists to take readers through a series of Norse myths, including the creation of the Nine Worlds, the loss of Odin’s eye and source of his knowledge, the crafting of Thor’s hammer and the gods’ most valuable treasures, the origin of poetry, and Loki’s part in the end of all things–Ragnarök.

My Take:

I have read Norse Myths by Neil Gaiman in hardback, listened to the audiobook and now read the comic. And I have enjoyed each format. I know the stories quite well by now but it was still fun to read them in comic form and see how the artists brought the characters and stories to life. Great for fans of norse mythology and Neil Gaiman.

The Angels Die by Yasmina Khadra

The Angels Die by Yasmina Khadra is a tragic story set in Algeria between the two world wars.

It follows the life of Turambo, a poor Algerian boy who grows up in the countryside and dreams of a better future.  After a time, his family moves to Oran – a whole new world for Turambo that is full of possibilities. He quickly learns that this new world is no different than his old stomping grounds – racism and colonialism reign even stronger in the city.

Despite some setbacks, Turambo is noticed for his fighting abilities. A high-profile sponsor picks him and Turambo uses boxing as a way to lift himself up. His anger at the injustices he sees – overt racism toward the Arab-Berbers; haughty colonialism of the French occupiers; and punishing behavior among the poor – fuel him in his fights. Along the way, he makes some friends and loses others.

The book is divided into three parts – each named after a woman that Turambo loves at some point. As with his interactions with Europeans, Turambo is constantly being disappointed in his love interests. Most of them turn him away for one reason or another. His last love interest accepts him for who he is.

Khadra captures Turambo’s guttural feelings for his surroundings – whether they are in the ring entertaining Europeans or in the brothel. Her descriptions leap from the page and engage the reader. For example, through Turambo, Khadra shines her writing skills on the boxing ring. The fighters are used until they either lose or are too battered to continue their career. In this brutal world, she raises Turambo above the norm and has him excel.

A good look at colonial Algeria from the perspective of an Arab-Berber.

The Dictator’s Last Night by Yasmina Khadra

With the recent release of the movie 13 Hours, focus has been put back on the debacle in Benghazi and the downfall of Gaddafi’s Libya. Yasmina Khadra writes his take on Gaddafi’s final hours in The Dictator’s Last Night.

Khadra successfully attempts to get the reader into the mind of one of the Arab world’s first modern dictators. He focuses on the megalomaniac that is Gaddafi – from his humble origins as a bedouin tribesman to his ascension to dictator of Libya. He captures Gaddafi perfectly.

Here is a great quote from the book that captures Khadra’s portrayal of Gaddafi:

People say I am a megalomaniac. It is not true. I am an exceptional being, providence incarnate, envied by the gods, able to make a faith of his cause.

It is not easy to write about the thoughts and feelings of one of the most divisive leaders in the Arab world. But, Khadra is able to do it with excellent insight.

The most interesting part of the book is Gaddafi’s attempts to flee from capture. Khadra narrates from Gaddafi’s perspective the actions of Gaddafi and his men as their convoy tries to avoid rebel forces. The part climaxes with Gaddafi’s capture in a drainage pipe and his death.

The book provides an excellent window into the black soul of a despot.

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