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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Reader's Diary #1984- Jerome Ruillier, translated by Helge Dascher: The Strange

In many ways, Jerome Ruillier's graphic novel The Strange was what I'd been hoping to get out of Duncan Tonatiuh's The Strange. While both deal with the troubles faced by undocumented immigrants, I felt like I really got more a sense of the character and situation in Ruillier's. For one, it's longer. I'm a fan of short stories, even flash fiction; I'm not against brevity per se and think a lot can be accomplished in a short space, but Tonatiuh's needed expansion and Ruillier's delivered.

Ruillier's approach was to take the perspectives of many characters, the immigrant (the "strange") as well as those he'd encountered in his new country. If there's any truth to the old adage, three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth, Ruillier takes it even further with yours, yours, yours, yours, mine, and the truth. The result is a complex and more complete, empathetic picture.

As with Tonatiuh's book, however, I would have liked more at the beginning to help explain the person's motivation for leaving, but I didn't find myself dwelling on it as much this time around.

The art is quite interesting and I would guess that it's polarizing. It looks rough, rushed, almost amateurish at times, though you can also tell it's a stylistic choice rather than any lack of ability on Ruillier's part. But the use of animals, as in Maus, fits the themes of culture clashes well.

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