Book Review: I’m Never Coming Back by Julian Hanshaw

Title: I’m Never Coming Back
Author: Julian Hanshaw
Publisher: Jonathan Cape, Random House UK
ISBN: 978-0-224-09644-7
Genre: Graphic Fiction
Pages: 144
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

When someone writes about the human condition, the reader is almost forced to contemplate on his or her life. There would be no other way to read that particular book. I am amazed at what is being done with the so called, “Graphic Novel”. The ways of telling stories are plentiful. It also matters what the book makes you feel and think after reading it. “I’m Never Coming Back” by Julian Hanshaw made me think of Home.

The stories in this graphic fiction book are connected and that is what makes it even more interesting and special. Julian takes us across three continents in this book, zooming in on unusual lives and situations which maybe we wouldn’t have otherwise thought of.

The way the stories are interconnected is also quite out of the ordinary. Each story has an impact on the next. The characters are forever struggling, trying to make sense of things and life as they know it.

In Rye Train station, a woman impulsively buys the same ticket as the man in front of her and finds herself in Berlin. At Heathrow airport on the other hand, a traveler is visited by a memory that refuses to leave. These stories are very unusual – for instance, a tray of Singaporean rice noodles cooked in Christchurch takes a life of its own all of sudden. I mean, who would have thought of such a story? The magical realism in these stories is astounding at times.

The themes that are mirrored through the book are of “loss”, “food” and “travel”, taking the readers from the Coast of Denge, to New Mexico, via Berlin, Christchurch, Tucson, and Heathrow. The stories take on a shape of their own – from being humorous to evoking pathos to sometimes whimsical (an expert crab speaking to an out-of-towner).

Since it is a graphic collection of stories, it can definitely be read in one sitting, which is what I did. The entire book is bursting with imagination, which is not only refreshing but also contemplative. Hanshaw manages to convey so much through the expressions of his characters that sometimes words aren’t needed (anyway they are needed less for such a medium of story-telling).

I loved the collection. The colours and the graphics make it even more interesting to read. I am glad I started the month with this book. I’m Never Coming Back is definitely something that takes time to get into, however the style and graphics leave you spellbound for sure. A must graphic fiction read.

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