I’m going to try to review this one but I am pretty sure it will be a supreme example of an exercise in futility. I don’t think it can really be done. But, fuck it. Here goes.
Habibi is one of the most captivating and awe-inspiring works of visual and literary art I have ever experienced. It is amazing. The story is about two awkward lovers who experience a life of pain that is unimaginable but simultaneously real. The irony in the life long relationship of the two main characters is on a level that I can’t remember ever experiencing in any other narrative. “WTF?” is what you will say as you read.
This story is a true graphic novel. A lot of works use that distinction but Craig Thompson’s, Habibi, is a graphic novel. It is a beautiful example of combining art with story telling. The art is obviously heavily inspired by a Middle Eastern aesthetic. The history and culture of the Islamic tradition is interwoven so profoundly to the story that you can’t tell if you are reading a modern story or some story passed down through an oral tradition for generations. Having said that, I realize that this would be impossible because the story is not set in theancient Middle East. I’m gonna be honest though. I can tell that it’s obviously set after the industrial revolution but I can’t ascertain exactly when. LOL. It just didn’t seem that important as I read. The story was so captivating that shit, the creator could have said it was set on the moon and I wouldn’t have given two shits.
The art and prose can not be separated in this story. That’s why I say it’s a TRUE GRAPHIC NOVEL. You know its a good story when all you can do is take it as a good narrative. I feel trying to pick out themes in it would be stupid and an insult to the work. It’s just beautiful.
Just read it. I tried to explain it but I couldn’t really. I will say this though. I doubt you can read this graphic novel twice. I don’t know what it is but I can’t. Some narratives draw you in so much that you become too invested in that world. You become too invested in the lives of the characters. You feel so for them that you curse the imaginary heavens in their imaginary worlds for what happens in their lives. I don’t think I could do it again with that story. I might try it again some day but it won’t be for a while.