Thi Bui's Favorite New Graphic Memoirs

March, 2017
Thi Bui

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Thi Bui's new graphic memoir illustrates the search for a better future and a longing for the past. The Best We Could Do explores the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family. In vivid detail Bui documents her family's daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.

Bui was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States as a child. She studied art and law and thought about becoming a civil rights lawyer, but she became a public school teacher instead. Bui lives in Berkeley, California, with her son, her husband, and her mother.

"Maybe it's because I am the child of two teachers, or that I have been an educator for the last decade and a bit, but I love books that open up a new way to see or do things," Bui says. These are her favorite recent (or soon-to-be-released) graphic memoirs and nonfiction comics.

Crushed by Trinidad Escobar
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"This is a book that is being birthed as I write about it. A woman, once a child given up for adoption, returns to her homeland and her first family. Dark nights, dark thoughts, and unspoken trauma lurk in the shadows behind scenes of love and familial bonding. While the journey of reconstructing fragmented, often painful memories into a narrative that is whole feels familiar to me, the idiosyncrasies of the storyteller's voice and what the artist sees and records along the way remind me that these paths are unique—trails cut through dense forests in the dark, each finding a different way home."

Rosalie Lightning by Tom Hart
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"This is a memoir about one of the saddest things on earth: the death of a child. When I had the chance to read an advance copy of it, on a remote island during a comics residency in Tasmania, I read it while walking so that I'd be far away from other people by the time I started crying uncontrollably. There's a motif of walking while grieving that is beautiful and heartbreaking and honest, and it inspired a scene in The Best We Could Do."

I Thought You Hated Me by MariNaomi
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"I am always grateful to books that give me a space to think about things that worry me in real life…like female friendship. This book is an artfully curated catalog of short vignettes and memories—funny, good, and bad—that add up to a portrait of a complex lifelong friendship between two women. Especially striking and impressive is the absence of captions or a narrator's voice, which allows the complexity to happen in the understated art and dialogue and the spaces in between."

Rolling Blackouts by Sarah Glidden
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"Chronicling, in diligently observed and beautifully watercolored detail, the travels of a small crew of American journalists through postwar Iraq and prewar Syria as they interview refugees and internally displaced persons, it lets the reader come along on a thoughtful and complex journey. As the observer in the book as well as the author tying events together, Glidden asks important questions about journalism that will be keeping me up at night thinking for a long time."

Gender Studies by Ajuan Mance
"In this ongoing series of short autobiographical stories called Gender Studies, Ajuan Mance takes readers by the arm and introduces them to a whole cast of characters and quotidian concerns that might either be very familiar or completely foreign, and does it with an ease and a sense of humor that exudes warmth and totally disarms and charms. In a toxic political climate that attacks 'identity politics,' these zines are a breath of fresh air. I'll listen to anything Ajuan has to say, and I'll be a kinder, wiser person for it."

Want more book recommendations from authors? Check out our Good Minds Suggest series.

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message 1: by Mahalia (new)

Mahalia i think this is a great set of books!

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