Tuesday, January 15, 2019

#BookReview: Hibakusha by Thilde Barboni & Olivier Cinna

Historical Graphic Novel

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Ludwig has never been a soldier. A childhood injury left him lame in one leg, which has allowed him to largely sit out the war on the sidelines, as a translator. Fleeing his passionless marriage, he accepts an assignment in Japan, allowing him to return to the land of his youth. But the year is 1945. It is not a good time to be Japanese, or German… much less stationed in Hiroshima. Ludwig is tempted by love and, in furtively tampering with his translations of classified documents, by the chance to do something heroic. But none of that will save him...

Thilde Barboni’s Hibakusha is not a simple or straightforward graphic novel. By definition, hibakusha is a descriptor denoting a survivor of either of the atomic explosions at Hiroshima or Nagasaki in 1945.  This graphic novel explores that concept in both the physical and metaphor capacities.

Olivier Cinna’s artwork enhances the narrative with beautiful renderings that are at once strikingly emotional and brutally honest. I thought the imagery paired quite nicely with the narration and liked how it helped facilitate a connection to the novel’s German and Japanese cast.

I loved the central theme of this novel but admit to feeling the sexually charged introduction unnecessary. Having said that, I grew to appreciate the broader themes of the story and was touched by its stark and imaginative take on the shadows of Hiroshima.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: January 14, 2019

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