In preparation for the Comics and Animation Film Festival I wrote about here, I was reading as many comic books as I could. I was also on a hunt for South Asian women comic book writers. So in 2011 I read:
1. Kari by Amrutha Patil – It is a story about a young women in a city in India, her life, love and everything that happens in itThe fact that it deals with homosexuality and bisexuality won it extra points from me. The illustrations are beautiful blending colour and black and white drawings, it was a revelation about Indian Graphic fiction for me.

2. The Hotel at the End of the World by Parismita Singh – It is a story which revolved around conversations that happen in a hotel somewhere on the border of China and another country (you don’t know which, but I assumed it was India). Fantasy blends social reality in this beautifully illustrated graphic novel. I was lucky enough to watch Parismita talk about her work at NID, which enhanced the experience of the book for me.

3. Sita’s Ramayana by Samhita Arni and Moyna Chitrakar is what the title suggests, the story of Ramayana as Sita would have told it. I don’t want to say no more. It is must read and a must have for its amazing illustrations. It is a piece of art. It was published by Tara books, read their article on the many versions of the Epic on their blog and Women’s Web editor Aparna’s review here.

I don’t read much in French though I am almost bi-lingual because I feel like the pleasure is too laborious but reading Graphic novels makes it much less laborious.
4. L’Affaire des Affaires by Denis Robert and Laurent Astier – The title literally translates to ‘the Business of Businesses’. It is a graphic novel in 4 parts of which I read 3. It is about the research done by journalist Denis Robert on the Clearstream scandal involving banks of Luxembourg mainly but other European states as well. It is an eye opener on the perversion that is the world economic order and why inclusive development is still a far fetched dream in the world.
Unfortunately I could not find any English Translation but I will keep an eye out for it.

5. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi – I read this book almost 8 yrs back as a student at the Alliance Francaise. This was a rappel and I loved it so much more. It is an autobiographical comic about the life of the author in Iran and Austria in 4 parts. The author is born in progressive Iran and is sent to Europe during her adolescence to escape the extremist Islamic government that had taken over Iran. In early adulthood she goes back to Iran. The book deals with Islam and its extremes, xenophobia and racism in Europe and women’s rights in the midst of it all.
An English translation is available in two parts, it was also made into a movie called Persepolis that is an absolute must watch for its beautiful black and white animation and the story of course.

6. Le Chat du Rabbin by Joann Sfar – This is the cutest philosophically inclined story about a cat who lives with a Rabbi and calls himself ‘the rabbi’s cat’ (translation of title). The cat one day begins to talk and wants to do his Bar-Mitsva which is a ceremony initiating young Jews into Judaism. The cat intelligently asks questions about Jewish customs and traditions to his master the Rabbi which sends the Rabbi into a spiritual quest and the reader into the discovery of Judaism.
The graphic novel is in 5 parts and rumour has it a 6th one is coming out soon. This one has been translated into English too and is available in a two part edition. The movie Rabbi’s Cat which released in 2011 is also available in an English version. The movie is as good an experience as the books.

Do tell me if you have read any of the above and which ones inspire you the most.