Thursday, May 3, 2012

Habibi by Craig Thompson

Habibi by Craig Thompson took six years to create and it shows. The incredible detail and research that went into this graphic novel is a shining beacon of accomplishments in the medium. As with Blankets, Thompson explores society and religion's relationship with sex while developing characters, symbolism, and motifs. Habibi especially takes an interest in Arabian calligraphy, which can be seen throughout the tome of a graphic novel. Here are the spoiler-filled discussion questions:

1. What is the significance of calligraphy in the story and in the art?

2. Habibi has been criticized for treating sexuality as forbidden or shameful. Your thoughts?

 3. Why is Habibi's world a mashup of old and new?

4. Keeping in mind the themes of love and affection in Blankets, how has Craig Thompson taken those ideas and evolved them in Habibi? What does it say about his evolution as a writer?

5. What does Habibi say about humanity's relationship with nature?

6. Did you find the interspersed Quran stories enriched the narrative?

7. Robyn Creswell of The New York Times called this book "a work of fantasy about being ashamed of one’s fantasies." Your thoughts?

8. Citing the portrayal of Arabs in Habibi, one critic said "The problem in making something knowingly racist is that the final product can still be read as racist." Do you agree?

9. Why did Zam become a eunuch? Was "purifying his mind" not enough to dispel his disgust with his thoughts and the sexual transgressions against Dodola?

10. What is the importance of the fisherman in the third act?

11. What does Zam and Dodola's ship in the desert represent?

 12. Is romantic love that excludes sex possible? At that point, is it simply sibling-esque love?