Middle Eastern Heroines in Graphic Novels - The Melting Pot
Middle Eastern cultures are rich with tradition and history not often discussed or explored in western education curriculums. Female perspectives from these countries can also be difficult to find. This month’s books feature a dash of something old and something somewhat new.
Let’s add some mint and saffron to The Melting Pot…
Persepolis sits among the books on my dedicated ‘favorite books’ shelf. It is a coming of age story steeped in Iranian culture. The heroine is the author and I found her perspective on the events in her life both profound and refreshing. Men so often write history; seeing the events in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution looking through a feminine lens provides a poignant and emotion packed reader experience that is rarely seen in graphic novels.
The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Here, in one volume: Marjane Satrapi's best-selling, internationally acclaimed memoir-in-comic-strips.
Persepolis is the story of Satrapi's unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming--both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.
Edgy, searingly observant, and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom--Persepolis is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularly talented graphic artists at work today.
Let me begin by saying this book is beautifully drawn. Weighing in at a hefty 655+ pages of detailed artwork…you have to admire Mr. Thompson’s tenacity, skill, and creativity. At its heart, Habibi is a love story between Dodola and Zam. However, getting to the ‘happily ever after’ (HEA) was fraught with emotionally hard reading. The depictions of violence against women were graphic, plentiful, and - in my humble opinion – not necessary for plot development in the numbers they were presented. (Seriously, at one point I wondered if Dodola would ever get to wear clothes again.) The overall setting felt like a fantastical mash-up of a variety of cultures and settings that made it difficult for me to get a feel for time and place. Plus, I am never a fan of use of the n-word. What I did thoroughly enjoy, though, were the side explorations of the contrasts between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. WARNING: this story contains elements of violence that may act as triggers for some readers.
Habibi (Pantheon Graphic Novels) by Craig Thompson
Sprawling across an epic landscape of deserts, harems, and modern industrial clutter, Habibi tells the tale of Dodola and Zam, refugee child slaves bound to each other by chance, by circumstance, and by the love that grows between them. We follow them as their lives unfold together and apart; as they struggle to make a place for themselves in a world (not unlike our own) fueled by fear, lust, and greed; and as they discover the extraordinary depth—and frailty—of their connection.
At once contemporary and timeless, Habibi gives us a love story of astounding resonance: a parable about our relationship to the natural world, the cultural divide between the first and third worlds, the common heritage of Christianity and Islam, and, most potently, the magic of storytelling.
Columnist: C. Morgan Kennedy
I have a confession to make. I’m a time traveler. I love flinging myself into the future, then hurtling fast to an alternative past. In my usual time-space-dimension, I’m a mechanical engineer and business woman. So, I have a natural penchant for hover cars and steam or aether powered engines. Though I was born in the wrong era, I’m actually a child of the sixties – 1860, 1960, 2060.
My stories feature strong women, who know how to wield their minds like weapons. Their men are smart and often controlling….but, rest assured, my female leads give them a run for their money. They strive to follow their hearts and dreams for the betterment of themselves and their loved ones. Like my life, all of my stories feature a diverse cast of characters.
With my business partner, Therese Patrick, I work to demystify marketing principles for my author friends. Our first book, Author Marketing 101 Guide & Journal, was published by Gazebo Gardens Publishing and released in October 2013.
Steampunk, futurist, blerd, artist, author, and marketing maven…a real creative force of nature – that’s me in a nutshell.
Keep tabs on my adventures via my blog, Morgan’s Mix Tape, on my website: http://www.cmorgankennedy.com.