Did you know that, in addition to the “classics”, the Norlin Library has a great collection of graphic novels in French? No matter your interests, chances are there’s a book for you!
Many people are already familiar with Julie Maroh’s Le bleu est une couleur chaude, which became a hit in the U.S. as Blue is the Warmest Color. This graphic novels tells the moving story of Clémentine as she falls in love with the blue-haired Emma and explores her own identity. If you’ve already read Maroh’s novel, you might like the equally emotional love stories told in Nos âmes sauvages by French author Johanna or Mauvais genre by Chloé Cruchaudet. Nos âmes sauvages follows the story of Nina, a French environmental activist working in the Amazon forest and trying to cure her broken heart. Mauvais genre is a work of historical fiction following the Parisian couple Paul and Louise. When Paul becomes a draft deserter during World War I, the two are forced to go into hiding until Paul decides to become Suzanne. If you want a poignant story without the romance, try Sous l’entonnoir by Sibylline and illustrated by Natacha Sicaud. This autobiographical graphic novel narrates Sibylline’s experience in a mental hospital after she attempted suicide at the age of 17.
For a cheerier tone, take a look at Mambo, TMLP: Ta mère la pute, or Esthétique & filatures. Mambo by Claire Braud. With simple, black and white illustrations Braud provides a humorous exploration of 50’s kitsch and exoticism. In TMLP: Ta mère la pute, Gilles Rochier illustrates the lives of a group of teenage boys exploring the Paris streets in the 1970s. Esthétique & filatures, with a story by Lisa Mandel and artwork by Tanxxx, follows the sexual adventures of Marie with plenty of dark humor along the way.
Of course not all the graphic novels in this collection are by French authors! In Chroniques de Jérusalem, Québeçois author Guy Deslisle reflects on his time in the holy city with his two children and partner, Nadège, who was in Israel to work for Doctors without Borders. In another autobiographical work, L’Arab du futur, the French-Syrian author Riad Sattouf tells the story of his eccentric family and his childhood in France, Libya, and Syria. Aya de Yopougon, by Ivorian author Marguerite Abouet, is full of vignettes of the people of Côte d’Ivoire who are all connected by their interactions with the protagonist, Aya.
Finally, no collection would be complete without the works of Marjane Satrapi. Her graphic novel Persepolis has been hugely popular around the globe but the author has plenty more to offer. Poulet aux prunes tells the story of the musician Nasser Ali Khan. When his violin is broken and he loses his will to play, Nasser Ali decides he will take to his bed and wait for death. On a lighter note, Broderiesoffers a humorous look at the gossip of Iranian women who defy stereotypes as they openly discuss love, sex, and other topics.
All these graphic novels and more can be found in the Norlin Library. Don’t speak French? Not to worry, the English translations of many of these works are available in the library as well!
Written by Kathryn Bodnar, Intern, University of Denver.
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