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Habibi

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  36,335 ratings  ·  3,468 reviews
From the internationally acclaimed author of Blankets , a highly anticipated new graphic novel.
 
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 toget
...more
Hardcover, 672 pages
Published September 20th 2011 by Pantheon (first published September 2011)
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Popular Answered Questions
ΕιζΝιnΕ Short Answer: Blutch, & Frederik Peeters (without question)...
Peplum & Vitesse moderne (by Blutch); and Lupus, (by Frederik Peeters, one of his best …more
Short Answer: Blutch, & Frederik Peeters (without question)...
Peplum & Vitesse moderne (by Blutch); and Lupus, (by Frederik Peeters, one of his best early books, a 500+ page Science Fiction epic, done in his looser, Blutch/Thompson style).

Long Answer/TL;DR Answer:
'Blankets' was strongly influenced by the artistic style of French BD master Blutch. Thompson was one of several artists providing testimonials for the French master's genius & influence, in a TCJ article on Blutch being honored with an award at Angeloume, recognizing his already brilliant career.

Typical of Thompson's modesty & generosity, he recalls a slightly snarky rejection from an editor at the outstanding independent publishing house 'L'Association'. They wanted to publish French editions of his work, and loved 'Goodbye, Chunky Rice'. But when he sent them the finished pages from 'Blankets', the editor responded with the comment: 'Sorry, we already have a Blutch'.

It was an obnoxious thing to say, but Thompson being the humble, intensely self-critical sort that he is, realized all at once just how deeply Blutch had informed his stylistic shift between 'Goodbye, Chunky Rice' & 'Blankets'... and on further scrutiny, admits to accidentally & unconsciously 'swiping' a couple panels from Blutch's own memoirs detailing his fundamentalist upbringing, Le Petit Christian and Le Petit Christian 2.
While Blutch had a strong influence on Thompson, and 'Blankets' owes him a stylistic debt, the unnamed editor was vastly overstating the similarities. Craig Thompson is a singular talent, one of the best artists in the medium, and 'Habibi' further demonstrated his ability to evolve & adapt according to the demands of the story. Both Thompson & Blutch are absolute masters of the craft, artistic geniuses who have enriched the comics artform.

Blutch's work can be challenging & strange, operating somewhere on/in the Lynch-Woodring nexus of dreams, hallucinogenic states & alternate realities... but with a subtle, more grounded approach with seamless transitions. I've found briefly absurd & incoherent moments in his work that gradually resolve to a sharpened laser-focus. Never boring, always rewarding. And if you're looking for an artistic tour de force, I'd recommend:
01. Peplum, (English); It's one of his early masterworks, but 'Peplum' holds up as a modern classic.

02. Vitesse moderne(French); Blutch's expressionistic dry-brush style is operating at peak aesthetic power & efficiency.

03. Lune l'envers (French); one of his newer works, with a unique choice of colors.

04. So Long, Silver Screen (English); a beautiful & dreamlike homage to the painfully beautiful actresses of French Cinema.

05.Total Jazz (French); a collection of his music-themed art, material gathered from every period of his career. Half art-book, half short story collection.

Frederik Peeters may surpass both Blutch & Thompson, but I see all 3 as equals, in the roughest sense. These are all available in English, except Lupus. The four volume 'Aama' is one of the best BD masterworks of the millennium, and the artwork... wow, It's like the talents of Moebius, Blutch & Katsuhiro Otomo have been synthesized to create the perfect SeqArtist. ALSO: Like Thompson & Blutch, be produced one of the most groundbreaking memoirs of the last 20 years: 'Blue Pills'...
01. Aama, Vol. 1: The Smell of Warm Dust (English);

02. Aama, Vol. 2: The Invisible Throng (English);

03. Aama, Vol. 3: The Desert of Mirrors (English);

04. Aama, Vol. 4: You Will Be Glorious, My Daughter (English);

05. Pachyderme (English);

06. Lupus (English).(less)
Julia I would not. It contains violence and sexual violence as well as other ways we humans can be completely and totally cruel to each other. It's a beauti…moreI would not. It contains violence and sexual violence as well as other ways we humans can be completely and totally cruel to each other. It's a beautiful story of spirituality and love, but for the mature reader. Read it yourself, then consider a supervised read if you think your young adult can handle it, but I would advise that they wait.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.03  · 
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 ·  36,335 ratings  ·  3,468 reviews


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Madeline
Dec 03, 2011 rated it liked it
I don't usually read graphic novels, but on the recommendation of my roommate (and the fact that this is one beautiful-looking book) I started reading this. At first, I wasn't sure how to review it, because frankly I had a lot of conflicting feelings about it. Some parts I loved, some parts I hated, some parts I wonder if I just misunderstood. But it's okay, because that just means I was given an opportunity to write a review in what is, personally, my favorite reviewing style, which is:

THE GOOD
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Seth T.
Sep 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
Habibi by Craig Thompson

A couple weeks ago, I read and reviewed Chester Brown's Paying For It , a book singularly concerned with separating love from sex. Brown forwards the idea that fewer problems arise if we segregate sex as completely as we can from the relational sphere. He does this to such an extent that he proposes that sex is a pleasure best paid for and made entirely transactional. It's not spoiling anything to say that Brown, as he represents himself in the book, is more wholly concerned with sex than he
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digital
It's just too bad. This book is conceived in a truly spectacular way, and visually, it succeeds and succeeds and succeeds. Even at its most whimsical and farflung, the stories of the prophets and the references to mysticism thread elegantly through the narrative. Thompson has a knack for portraying themes through symbolism in an elaborate, poignant manner.

The book was at its best, actually, during these side-stories. The basic narrative is, rather literally, fucked. The theme of the story is co
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Deena Hypothesis
Nov 03, 2011 rated it did not like it
Yay for Orientalism!

"My beef with Thompson is about his staggering Orientalism, which I’ll get to shortly.

Themes of longing and survival permeate Habibi. The protagonists, Zam and Dodola, long for each other, likening this to a yearning for the Divine – Middle Eastern poets have done this for centuries. Zam and Dodola endure horrible events in the name of survival, perhaps tying in with Thompson’s conservationist theme by implying that our disregard for the earth is tantamount to rape and castra
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Greta G
Damn you, Craig Thompson.
I’m so disappointed with your book Habibi.
Your book is absolutely awful, despite your fancy artwork.
You’ve totally lost my respect after I’ve read your book today. In fact, I couldn’t even finish it.
Your book is problematic in so many ways. It’s over the top racist and sexist and shallow.
I’ve never read a book before that glorifies and romanticizes sexual violence so much. On every other page, your female protagonist was raped, objectified or victimized. Every Arabic
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Patrick
Jan 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wow.

I guarantee you've never read anything like this book.
Nat
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
I picked up this mind-boggling graphic novel on a whim, and I'll forever be grateful for that. My head felt like a spaceship right after finishing. Prepare for this to change your perception and the way you think about... everything.

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
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Ferdy
Spoilers

Absolutely awful, one of the most rage inducing things I've ever read. I don't even know where to begin, there were that many fucked up things about it.

Random, rambly thoughts:

-Habibi was a ridiculously offensive graphic novel filled with nothing but racist, sexist, orientalist, misogynistic rubbish. Then there was the glorification of abuse and rape running throughout, the main character couldn't go at least a couple of pages without being naked, raped or victimised.

-The story itself w
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Huda AbuKhoti
Jul 26, 2012 rated it did not like it
I am just sad and very upset, ignorant and shallow orientalism go through this book from start to finish. The artwork is amazing, although I hate it when arabic calligraphy is misused as a decor and with random meaningless letters. The elaborate usage of religious stories that had nothing to do with the ideologies in the book and its storyline that were furthermore exploited sometimes by misinterpretations was just too much for me. Overall it's overwhelming and not in a good way, as a Muslim wom ...more
K. F.
Oct 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: comics
Habibi is a laboriously gorgeous comic, with beautiful drawings, inks and atmosphere. Ever since Craig Thompson announced it on his blog years ago, I had been really excited. I had loved Goodbye Chunky Rice, liked Blankets, and was sure that Thompson would craft a beautiful story with all the care that it would require.

It's a real shame that it's a hopelessly orientalist narrative with virtually every other *ism you can think of added in with bonus writing that really isn't that great. We spend
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Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, comics
Habibi means Beloved in Arabic.

habibi

Which made me think of Toni Morrison when I first laid eyes on the graphic art album. By the end of the journey it turned out that my initial fancyful association was not so far-fetched and random as I expected. Because this is a story about pain and suffering among the dispossessed, the persecuted, the enslaved. It is also a story about strength and faith in the most cruel circumstances, about the things that unite us and help us make it through the night. Religio
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Nnedi
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I can’t recommend this book enough. This graphic novel is a testament to the fact that the physical book should never die. Habibi is a work of art full of Arabic calligraphy, bleeding pages and detailed imagery that is both Arab and African, modern and ancient. And equally as exquisite, compelling and daring is the book’s story of two slaves, one African and one Arab and how the world shapes, destroys, and evolves them. THE Best Book of 2011.
Trish
In an interview Craig Thompson told his audience that artists must become vulnerable if their work is to mean anything. This dark and agonized work has a great deal of nakedness in it, both literally and figuratively, and a lot of staring directly at human experience and trying to make sense of it. It also looks with a colder, more dispassionate and assessing eye at the overlap in the religious teachings of Christianity and Islam.

This is Thompson’s fourth published work, and one glance inside gi
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Richard Derus
Jan 31, 2012 rated it did not like it
I tried, really really hard I tried, but Habibi has defeated me. I simply cannot help myself, I put Richie Rich's face on the men and Veronica's on the women. Graphic novel remains, for me, a term of art without substantive affect on my vision. To me, they're comic books, and I didn't ever like comic books.

So sorry. I'll go now.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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Calista
Wow, this is a dark tale. It has a decent ending, but the characters go through hell on Earth to get there. I mean they are dragged through the muck and forced to live through childhood marriage, rape, prostitution, death, murder, disease, pollution, castration, thievery, I mean you name the horrible situation and most likely it's in here. This is a modern day story about Job with the twist being that Job is a woman in this tale.

It is 600+ pages of suffering, searching and horrors to go through
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Nicholas Karpuk
Sep 26, 2011 rated it did not like it
I couldn't review this book until I came up with a suitably convoluted metaphor:

This book is like being hit by a pillow shot by artillery at great range. There's a lot of noise on delivery, it takes forever to hit you, and when you do there's a lot of mixed feelings, but mostly just confusion, annoyance, and uncertainty about what exactly the point was.

In opposition to what Craig Thompson may or may not be discouraging you from doing (maybe?), I'm going to make a broad stereotype. A person raise
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Sarah
Oct 10, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics
This is a difficult book to rate. If I were rating on the artwork alone, I would give it four or five stars. Thompson's penwork is outstanding. He has grown as an artist over the course of his career, and he started at a pretty decent level too. Gorgeous design work, beautifully composed panels. Not Thompson's, but the hardcover edition is itself beautifully designed and a pleasure to hold.
Unfortunately, I don't think the story is quite equal to the art. It's very good, probably better than my t
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সালমান হক
Habibi is an absolute work, perfectly cared for in all aspects. Its plot, although heartbreaking most of the time, introduces us to Dodola and Zam, a couple of orphans who escape captivity together as children and show us how difficult life can be.

But in order to survive, Dodola tells Zam countless stories from the Quran. The fusion between religion and reality is perfectly achieved, as there are many parallels in history, a lot of symbolism and a lot of background even in aspects of language s
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Teresa
Jun 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Teresa by: Nick Kives
This is a gorgeous book, from cover to cover and all the illustrations (and calligraphy) in between. I wasn't sure in the beginning that I would like it, but I quickly found I did, and then the pages turned quickly as well.

In the beginning, because of the age of one of the main characters at the start, I (naively?) thought the story was set in the past, but not too far into it, I realized the time is now. And because of that, the story is relevant, as regards the treatment of females, of those w
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William Galaini
Jun 19, 2013 rated it did not like it
Habibi is perhaps the greatest example of beautifully executed trash. It is the Prometheus of graphic novels. Never have I seen such a detailed and intricately presented comic that appears to have been conceived and written over a matter of ten drunken, ethnocentric minutes. It is a delicious Swedish pastry with crumbly, honey drizzled walnuts on top... filled with dog-shit. Blacking out the lines of dialogue in this book would help it IMMENSELY.

Why? Well, here's why:

First off, the setting is a
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David Schaafsma
Whereas Blankets is sort of sweet and simple and anguished, a story of a summer love and all its complications, religious and philosophical and aesthetic, Habibi takes place over decades, and deals with the relationship between Christianity and Islam, environmental disaster... and yes, love. What this arthritic genius had to do to learn and enact Arabic art and language.... to delve into deeper aspects of religion, so impressive. Sometimes I felt he was biting off more than he could chew, as I a ...more
Mac
Sep 26, 2012 rated it liked it
I can’t remember the last time my thoughts were divided so cleanly in half when considering a book I’d read. For every “so,” I had a “but” to countermand it. The synthesis of these opposing opinions, it seems, is a middling rating – but I wouldn’t say that it’s any sort of mediocre book.

So. The initial reaction I have, at a gut level (said gut having been conditioned by too much school and cultural theory), is to go running to find Edward Said’s ghost and show him what this guy did. How, really,
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Licha
Wow! I am speechless at the talent Craig Thompson has. One review called this a masterpiece and I have to agree it truly is.

There's a lot of nudity and sexual situations, including prostitution, rape, and castration, so this is a warning for people who are not okay with that. There is also what I would consider mental incest between the two main characters.

Although of the two, I think I still love Blankets more (although at the time I believe I gave it four stars), Habibi is epic in proportion:
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Tori (InToriLex)
May 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: comic
Find this and other Reviews at In Tori Lex

Content Warning: Rape, Drug Use, Poverty, Sexual Abuse, Genital Mutilation, Prostitution, Violence, Racist

This book broke my heart and stomped on the pieces multiple times. It was engaging and unique but also extremely problematic. Habibi means Beloved in Arabic, and the story follows Dodola and Zam through horrific hardships and pain. The journey is interspersed with stories from Christianity and Islam, using the commonalities between the two to create
...more
Sam Quixote
Oct 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Set in a fictional country in what seems to be the Middle East, a 6 year old girl called Dodola is sold by her poverty-stricken parents to a calligrapher to be his wife. The man is brutally murdered and the girl is stolen and sold into slavery. She saves an infant boy from certain death by claiming him as her own and then later escaping with him to live on an abandoned ship in the middle of the desert. She names him Habibi. The two of them manage to survive for a few years by Dodola prostituting ...more
Liz Janet
Jul 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Triggers in this wonderful book.

Habibi means many things in Arabic, a term of endearment to others, but I like to use it to mean “beloved.” And this book is habibi to me.

This novel is set in an Islamic state, but not historical, rather current, but more of a mythical place, and it follows Dodola and Zam, child slaves as they escape ad try to find each other once more. It is basically a love story, but with so much more depth, and what humanity causes,suffering, faith, and culture and its divid
...more
Katiarai
Sep 21, 2011 rated it liked it
I think the review from The Guardian really explains my reaction to this book the best. The artwork is beautiful. But the lack of a specific location and time period really weakens the story and characters allowing neither to fully take off nor grow. So instead as I read I kept waiting to fully understand the scope of all that was happening and the reason it was written/drawn as it was only to find nuggets and glimmers without the satisfaction that existed in Blankets' fully developed concept.

T
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Tatiana
Oct 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Gorgeously drawn, but the story itself is bloated, unfocused and occasionally melodramatic and exploitative.
Alja (alyaofwinterfell)
Habibi has 672 pages and yet I've read it in one sitting. Is there really anything more to add?

It was poignant, heartbreaking, horrifying and breathtakingly beautiful at the same time.

description

The story isn't linear but it's relatively easy to follow the jumps in narrative and time. Thompson adds a lot of side stories from The Quran, which were interesting and added to the story and to the message it carries. Here religion plays a vital role, but it is shown as the way of healing and hope, rather than i
...more
Oriana
Sep 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
#20 for Jugs & Capes!

Holy balls, this book is so phenomenal. I put it on my CCLaP best-of-2011 list, and here's what I said there:

My hopes for this one were pretty low, as I'd found Blankets to be flaccid and hokey and saccharine and generally pretty boring. Habibi, though, is downright spectacular. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous, complex and inventive and enthralling. The story is huge and sweeping, a sad tale of two people with insanely awful lives who find each other and save e
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Book Club: Habibi 2 12 Aug 20, 2019 08:56PM  
Mi opinión 3 18 Feb 21, 2018 10:30PM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: Habibi 1 7 Sep 15, 2012 02:04PM  
Graphic Novel Rea...: Official Fifth Book Club Discussion: Habibi - May 2012 (may contain spoilers) 16 76 Jun 04, 2012 08:47AM  

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Craig Ringwalt Thompson (b. September 21, 1975 in Traverse City, Michigan) is a graphic novelist best known for his 2003 work Blankets. Thompson has received four Harvey Awards, two Eisner Awards, and two Ignatz Awards. In 2007, his cover design for the Menomena album Friend and Foe received a Grammy nomination for Best Recording Package.

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“You're more than a story.” 49 likes
“The Sufi saint Rabi'a Al-Adawiyya was seen carrying a firebrand and a jug of water - the firebrand to burn Paradise, the jug of water to drown Hell...

So that both veils disappear, and God's followers worship, not out of hope for reward, nor fear of punishment, but out of love.”
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