I must be upfront and admit that I have only, in the past year or so, started reading graphic novels. It wasn’t that they weren’t on my radar, and how could they not be, with the commercial success of the film adaptation of V for Vendetta, 300, Sin City,  and Watchman (well that last one is debatable, and I’ve read the book, and I still disliked the movie. That is another story).

Habibi is not only a beautifully crafted story, but also a delectable visual experience. I have not read any Craig Thompson’s other books- he’s well known for autobiographical graphic novel Blankets – but I was entranced. There isn’t a lot of text, but the illustrations are so dynamic and powerful, that any more writing would have detracted from the experience. From the very beginning of his story, I was drawn into the intricacies of the world he was creating, the characters that he developed over the six-hundred plus pages, and the story. The heart of Habibi is a simple one, but therein lies its beauty. It is a story of stories, and the beauty of the written word. Thompson’s use of Arabic calligraphy is one of the most stunning aspects of the work. The words melt and intertwine with the environment in the story. There is such an organic connection between the power and elegance of writing and the world that Thompson is creating.


The story focuses on the two characters as they struggle to survive, after being cast out of their own lives. Together they sacrifice everything for each other, they create each other, and they lose each other. They are star-crossed lovers, but their love for one another is ever-evolving.

One of the other aspects I enjoyed was the comparison of congruent stories in the Old Testament and the Qur’an. As someone who has a background in both history and political science, I could not help but be very excited by it. It helps to point out both the similarities and differences within the stories, which made for some interesting mental musings.


I cannot recommend this book enough. I finished it in less than two days, and I am not a fast reader (much to my chagrin). I was so captivated and embrangled in Habibi, I was a bit devastated to be finished with the story. That sudden feeling of loss, that is the sign of a truly good book.

Thompson himself is worth a gander. He does a lot of charity work, and recently worked at an institute for the deaf in Salt, Jordan. Check out dootdootgarden for more about him and his work. Here is an interesting interview with the author about how he came upon the concept for the novel. It’s pretty engaging, because Thompson was brought up in an Evangelist Christian family in the American Midwest. Clearly writing about Muslim and Arabic culture was not his first go-to plot point.

Happy reading!


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