Category Archives: random house

Hostage by Guy Delisle

Title: Hostage
Author: Guy Delisle
Publisher: Jonathan Cape, Random House
ISBN: 978-1911214441
Genre: Graphic Memoir
Pages: 432
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

Guy Delisle’s graphic novels deal with humanity on a grand scale. When I say humanity I mean the issues we deal with not only on a day to day basis, but also the ones that sometimes go unnoticed – the events that go unspoken of, the people who get caught in unsuspecting circumstances and whose stories aren’t told as much. Delisle’s graphic novels till now (at least the ones I’ve read) have dealt with his life as the spouse of a Médecins Sans Frontières (literal translation: Medicine without Frontiers) physician in different cities. “Hostage” is different from these.

“Hostage” tells the story of Christophe André and his kidnapping in early July 1997 from his Doctors without Borders office in Nazran, a small town in the former Soviet Republic of Ingushetia. His kidnappers took him to Chechnya, where they tried to get a ransom of a million dollars. The story is of his captivity and how he managed to survive in the face of a hopeless situation – when he was moved from one place to another, when he didn’t know if he would live to see the next day or for that matter a random act of kindness from a captivator meant so much.

Delisle recounts André’s harrowing experience in hostage and not once the reader (of course me in question in this case) gets bored. Delisle conveys the psychological effects of solitary confinement through some brilliant use of colours, paneling and muted colour washes. Hostage had me hooting for Christophe and all I wanted was for him to go scot free without any injury. Your heart goes out to him as he is cuffed to a radiator, doesn’t know why he is here, doesn’t know whether his organization would pay for him and whether or not he will be able to attend his sister’s wedding or ever see her (heartbreaking in my opinion). I for one had goosebumps while reading this because I started wondering how I would behave in captivity. Would I be able to have any hope? Would I give up too soon?

The topic is grim and something that perhaps most people may not digest well. It being in a graphic form, in fact sometimes makes it only too real. Having said that, the book is compelling. Christophe managed to keep his sanity (you have to read to find out how he managed that) in an environment that was not conducive at all and yet is alive and managed to tell his tale to Delisle, which now is in the form of a brilliant graphic biography (I might even call it a memoir because all experiences are of Christophe after all and were narrated to the author). “Hostage” is a book that filled me with a lot of hope, troubled me at times and also made me see how easy it is sometimes for common folk to get into situations beyond their control. I also for one wouldn’t be surprised if someone decided to make a movie out of it.

You can buy the book here: http://amzn.to/2sZXYpo

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Patience by Daniel Clowes

patience-by-daniel-clowes

Title: Patience
Author: Daniel Clowes
Publisher: Jonathan Cape, Random House UK
ISBN: 978-1910702451
Genre: Graphic Novels, Sci-Fi
Pages: 180
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

The deal with graphic novels written by Clowes is that there is not one single moment of rest. You cannot keep it aside and mull over what you’ve read till it is over and done with. “Patience” is one such of his graphic novels. It is sci-fi, love, twisted and redemptive in so many ways, that you cannot help but love the writing and the illustrations.

What is it about though?

Before I tell you what this book is about, let me also tell you that this book is highly trippy – the graphics are 80s and fucking (pardon my French) fantastic. I mean, this one for sure has surpassed his earlier works in terms of the visuals. Having said that, Clowes’ books do tend to drift away from the regular – be it the story or the characters’ nature. Patience is definitely no different and on the money every single time.

Clowes explores the themes of loneliness and alienation as he has in most of his other books. What makes Patience so different then? It is also psychedelic and it is a sci-fi love story – which is destructive and tender. Jack’s pregnant wife Patience is killed and this leads to his downfall. He lives in misery for decades till he discovers a way to travel back in time and stop the murder from happening. Once he does travel in the past, he learns a lot about his wife which he wasn’t aware about. How will the book end? What will be the outcome of this story? There is really only one way to find out. Read this book. It is one of those rare gems.

Plumdog by Emma Chichester Clark

Plumdog by Emma Chichester Clark Title: Plumdog
Author: Emma Chichester Clark
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
ISBN: 978-0224098403
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 160
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

If you haven’t had a dog, or had a dog or still have a dog or in general love dogs, then “Plumdog” is the book for you. “Plumdog” happened to me on a Sunday at Wayword and Wise as I was browsing their shelves and chanced upon this little gem.

Plumdog - Image 1

I wasn’t aware then that Emma had a blog about her dog Plum that she updated quite regularly if not daily, neither was I aware that it was about the daily ongoing of life as seen through her dog Plum. And might I add that this book is a graphic novel, which is beautifully illustrated by Emma and that’s why it is even more special.

XY2775_Plumdog_UK_066.pdf

Now you know what “Plumdog” is about. I have said what I had to in the earlier paragraph. Having said that, why should you read this book? I will not even get there, because honestly, I believe that everyone should read it. Animals are way more precious than human beings and more importantly dogs. They love with no conditions. They give selflessly. Their loyalty is fierce and they know how to be there for you. Plum loves playing catching the twig, diving into rivers, treats (but of course) and spending time on her parents’ bed and of course also being all snooty when approached by the boys.

Plumdog - Image 3

“Plumdog” is all of that rolled into one about how dogs are and what they might think, which is a treat (I said that already but I cannot help but gush over it). Plumdog is a gift to be given to all who you know who love dogs and also who love pets in general. It will warm your soul and heart like no other book.

And add to that, it is also a blog on: http://www.emmachichesterclark.co.uk/blog.php Read it.

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Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi Title: Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
Author: Azar Nafisi
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
ISBN: 978-0812979305
Genre: Non-Fiction, Literature
Pages: 400
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

I had wanted to read this book since a very long time. In fact, at one point I even read it till about hundred pages and then just gave it up. Perhaps the time was not right. There are books that need to be read only when you are ready for them and at that time I wasn’t. “Reading Lolita in Tehran” came back to me around a while ago. I had to pick up another copy and start afresh and I did. I now completely see that I was right for it at this time than earlier.

“Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books” is about Azar Nafisi and the classes she taught in her home in Tehran once she quit the university of Tehran. It is not only about this though. It is not about the books they read because they could not read them freely and talk about them. The book goes deeper than that – it is about the Islamic revolution in Iran and how that impacted the lives of women when the Ayatollah came to power.

The author, now living in the US speaks of two decades in Iran as a teacher of American and English literature and how Iran changed drastically after the fall of the Shah. The transformation of Iran is charted through the eyes of the women who come to her house and they learn literature and compare their lives to it, thereby raising pertinent questions. For me this book was an eye-opener of what goes on outside my comfort zone and how in the long run it will impact all of us, whether we see it coming or not.

The insights from the books and parallel to lives are stupendously reached at and just for that I would so strongly recommend this book. The language is simple and yet at times it gets political but that is also because the book is about that and how art imitates life and vice-versa. It is about the relationships she has as a teacher with her students and also as a friend and extending it beyond to knowing who they truly are. All of this happens because of books.

Nafisi’s world is both real and fictitious and with her, so are her students’ lives. You get a glimpse and more about each story and how books shape them at the end of it all. The book is about fiction’s strength to empathize and deal with daily situations, more so when you live in a society that refuses to grant you your rights and there are restrictions at every step.

“Reading Lolita in Tehran” invites all readers to see life differently and to relate them to what you read and how it impacts you on a daily basis. I could not stop reading this one and I regret waiting this long to read it but all said and done it is a book which is not to be missed out on. Better late than never, right?

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Y – The Last Man – Volume 1: Unmanned by Brian K Vaughan and Art by Pia Guerra

Y - The Last Man - Volume 1 - Unmanned by Brian K. Vaughan Title: Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned
Author: Brian K. Vaughan
Illustrator: Pia Guerra
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
ISBN: 978-1563899805
Genre: Comics, Graphic Novels
Pages: 128
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Yorrick Brown is the only human survivor of a planet-wide plague that instantly kills every mammal possessing a Y chromosome. He does not know why and his entire world goes for a toss in this mysterious circumstance.

Interesting isn’t it? That’s what I thought as well and loved the premise. When I picked up the book and got done with the first volume, I loved it even more. The story is unique and begs to be a television series.

Image 1

The illustrations by Pia Guerra are sharp and display the post-apocalyptic world (well almost) quite interestingly. Yorrick then begins his journey with his pet monkey, a young geneticist and a government agent to go find his girlfriend halfway across the world and to figure how he happened to be the last man on earth.

Just for the premise, I would say you have to read this comic series. Brian K. Vaughan does an amazing job of this and this is before Saga was worked on. It is only a collection of ten volumes, so it does end somewhere. The narrative is so fast that there were times I had to go back and forth, just to make sense of it all. All that I can say is that the series will not disappoint me and yes I say this without having read the other volumes. I did pick up two, three and four right after. Go on and read this one.

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