Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Rabbi's Cat

I just finished _The Rabbi's Cat_ by Joann Sfar, which was just released in English. It's a graphic novel in three parts, narrated by a cat belonging to an Algerian rabbi during the early 1930s. I love Jewish comics art, so this was right up my alley.

The cat likes the rabbi, but adores his beautiful daughter Zlabya. Their relationship is complicated when the cat gains the power of speech (and turns out to be a liar and a freethinker, both of which upset the rabbi), and later, when Zlabya marries a young rabbi from Paris. The cat, the rabbi, and Zlabya all go through a certain amount of trauma and emotional upheaval during the book, but it ends on a hopeful, slightly offbeat note.

The book gives a sense of the pre-war Algerian community that feels alternately fanciful and realistic. The drawings are quirky and wonderful, and an endearing touch is the back-flap photo of the artist posing with his cat, who is clearly the model for the novel's narrator.

It's a little edgier than I expected from the reviews it's been getting, but I really liked it. Definately looking forward to the next installment.

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