Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Reader's Diary #1943- Olivia Burton (writer), Mahi Grand (artist), translated by Mike Kennedy: Algeria is Beautiful Like America

Near the end of Olivia Burton's graphic memoir Algeria is Beautiful Like America, she writes that she has "leapt feetfirst into black-and-white memories that weren't [her] own."

I suppose this explains the use of black and white and colour throughout the book. As she visits a contemporary Algeria to visit a land where her parents and grandparents spoke of fondly, their home as French colonialists, prior to moving back to France, the scenes are predominately black and white and the only time colour is introduced is when she takes a photo. It's a way of showing her creating memories of her very own.

I respect the artistic intent then, though I do wish the whole thing had been in colour. As it was, I found the gray-scale and soft pencil lines to be lacking heft, leaving me mostly unconnected. Likewise, the lettering was thin and small; lettering being something I don't usually even notice unless I don't like it.

I did enjoy some of the themes; wrestling with the colonial sins of one's ancestors, the rose-coloured nostalgia of the elderly, for instance. And I appreciated learning about Algeria, its present culture and the history of reclaiming independence from the French. But I felt the personal story was left in need of stronger art.

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