Books and Authors discovered serendipitously definitely have a special place in my heart. One of my current favourite authors was discovered by such methods of the mind, to naturally chance upon the best possible representation of its needs. A miracle of nature… just like the magical appearance of an elephant on the streets everytime I am gloomy and need a mood changer.
Craig Thompsom was discovered through his BEAUTIFUL ‘Habibi’ sitting behind the book seller’s desk at ‘Blossoms’ the wonderful book store in Bangalore. The book store is defnitely serendipity heaven for me, I found two books I have been looking for forever, both autographed by the authors! (who sells those??!?!). After we bought Habibi at Blossoms, we bought his other books online, since we live in ‘book-lover unfriendly’ Ahmedabad.
So Craig Thompson, is a graphic novelist, who draws and writes (so much talent in one human!) and has made/written 4 books. All beautiful, different and powerful in their own way. In my mind a must read for book lovers and a must have for book collectors.
I will start with the first one he wrote, its also my favourite Good-Bye Chunky Rice, the story of the turtle Chunky Rice who embarks on an adventure leaving behind his cher mouse deer friend Dandel. A touching story of their friendship, relationships, and loneliness, it leaves an emotional imprint on your heart forever, the kind of book whose exact story I might not remember in a few years to come but I will most certainly remember the warm feeling it left me with. Indeed it is a book I often pick up when I yearn for that warm familiar feeling. It is defiitely a book for all ages, I read with an 8 yr old friend as a bedtime story and she loved it. Philosophical in a child-like way its visuals and narrative draw at your hearts strings.
Habibi – the book that led us to the discovery of Craig Thompson is a piece of art, mindblowing illustrations and Arabic calligraphy make every page a painting. It is the story of Dodola and Zam, refugee child slaves whose lives entwine each other’s by chance. It is the story of their love and companionship, of separations and reunions with a backdrop of the common heritage of Islam and Christianity. Of course Craig Thompson’s genius narrations and illustrations create a magic, a world you plunge into when you open the pages of the book.
Blankets – is autobiographical, an ode to falling in love and self-discovery. The narratives and illustrations are poetic and have a musical beauty to it. Thompson creates once again a magical world through the narration of his first love. Touching and cathartic, he brings careful insight into his religious upbringing and the sometimes confusing relationships of parents to their children or between siblings.
Carnet de voyage – is what its title suggests. Craig Thompson’s illustrated travellogue of his journey through France, Barcelona, the Alps and Morocco where he was researching for his graphic novel Habibi. It is a sensitive, insightful portrait of countries and cultures through his interactions and introspections.
Reading/Experiencing Craig Thompson is for me like entering a more sensitive world, a world where love, friendships, relationships are genuine and valued, where introspection is key and brings about a critique of the world we inhabit. For the time that I am immersed in his books I can truly imagine that I am a silent observer in the world he has created, the power of graphic narratives unleashed!