Monthly Archives: March 2016

Market Day by James Sturm

Market Day by James Sturm Title: Market Day
Author: James Sturm
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
ISBN: 978-1897299975
Genre: Graphic novel
Pages: 96
Source: Borrowed read
Rating: 5/5

So this graphic novel came heavily recommended to me by @mentalexotica and I absolutely and most certainly take her recommendations very seriously – more so when it comes to graphic novels. She doesn’t miss them and is bang on with what she likes or loves most of the time. I read the book in half an hour (it was her copy), but the memory of it will stay and linger for longer than that.

“Market Day” as the title suggests is about a day in the market. It is about art and commerce as seen in the market by a Jewish rug-maker in early twentieth-century.

This graphic novel goes deeper than this for sure. The story of Mendleman in an Eastern-European village is exquisite and told with such finesse by James Sturm. The palette is sepia-infused and doesn’t change and yet the changes (if any) are clear. Sturm takes the reader on Mendleman’s journey through the market as he plans to sell his rugs and leads nowhere. Along the way, he meets his friends, is unable to sell his rugs, gets drunk and decides to sell his loom and do something else.

What is most touching and empathic at the same time, is that he will become a father soon – perhaps the next morning and he is in a state of utter confusion – he has to provide for his family and is most certainly disillusioned by what he sees around him and yet he must continue soldering on – if he wants to that is.

The illustrations are beautiful and stark. The pull between life and death, nurture and a sense of nonchalance, the need to keep going and the longing to give it all up – the contrasts are beautifully illustrated and at some point it ceases to be just the story of one man – but of all of us – because we all seem to have experienced it one time or the other: The sense of alienation, to give it all up and yet to keep going because something or the other always will provide for us, in some way or the other. I urge you to read this. Strongly at that.

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The Village Indian by Abbas Khider

The Village Indian by Abbas Khider Title: The Village Indian
Author: Abbas Khider
Publisher: Seagull Books
ISBN: 978-0857421012
Genre: Literary fiction
Pages: 224
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Seagull books are most interesting. There is something about the list that makes you want to read everything they publish. Their fiction is superlative. Their non-fiction mesmerizes you as a reader. Their concepts and what they choose to publish is beyond anything that I have seen come from other publishers. So when I started reading “The Village Indian” by Abbas Khider, I knew I had struck gold.

“The Village Indian” is not an easy read – in the sense that it is difficult to get your teeth into – yes it is a difficult read from the look of it, but when you immerse yourself in the book – then you cannot get out of it, till it is done and finished with.

The novel though is drawn from the author’s experiences as a political prisoner and the years he spent as a refugee. It will not be easy for some to stomach this, but there is no sugar-coating in this book at all. The hero Rasul Hamid describes the eight different ways in which he fled his home in Iraq and how in those eight different times he failed to find himself a new way home.

This is the summary of the plot – so to say but there are so many layers to this book that will take you by surprise and throw you off-guard. The humour bites you and at the same time it has you wondering about the refugee condition and what happens to those who do not make it – what about the people living on the margins? Do they have a future at all?

Khider’s writing is razor-sharp and doesn’t miss a beat in any sentence or page for that matter. It is a joyride of a novel – that takes you through various turns and twists, and at the same time at some level makes you see what the world really is like, and surprisingly I was a little hopeful, a little bittersweet and a whole lot of happy after reading this book.


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