The Rabbi's Cat (Pantheon Graphic Novels) (英語) ハードカバー – 2005/8/16
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The preeminent work by one of France’s most celebrated young comic artists, The Rabbi’s Cat tells the wholly unique story of a rabbi, his daughter, and their talking cat — a philosopher brimming with scathing humor and surprising tenderness.
In Algeria in the 1930s, a cat belonging to a widowed rabbi and his beautiful daughter, Zlabya, eats the family parrot and gains the ability to speak. To his master’s consternation, the cat immediately begins to tell lies (the first being that he didn’t eat the parrot). The rabbi vows to educate him in the ways of the Torah, while the cat insists on studying the kabbalah and having a Bar Mitzvah. They consult the rabbi’s rabbi, who maintains that a cat can’t be Jewish — but the cat, as always, knows better.
Zlabya falls in love with a dashing young rabbi from Paris, and soon master and cat, having overcome their shared self-pity and jealousy, are accompanying the newlyweds to France to meet Zlabya’s cosmopolitan in-laws. Full of drama and adventure, their trip invites countless opportunities for the rabbi and his cat to grapple with all the important — and trivial — details of life.
Rich with the colors, textures, and flavors of Algeria’s Jewish community, The Rabbi’s Cat brings a lost world vibrantly to life — a time and place where Jews and Arabs coexisted — and peoples it with endearing and thoroughly human characters, and one truly unforgettable cat.
“He draws faster than his shadow. He comes up with new stories as if he were drinking a glass of water. He talks more than anyone I’ve ever known. He’s extremely talented, extremely funny, extremely smart. I guess this is the description of a genius. And I don’t say such things because he’s my friend. Joann Sfar is not a rabbi, but he describes better than anyone the religious dilemma with tenderness, intelligence, and humor. The Rabbi’s Cat is a book that everybody should read.”
–Marjane Satrapi, author of Persepolis
“[The Rabbi’s Cat] is rich in historic and cultural detail and filled with great stories.”
–The Washington Post
“As fanciful as Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,
a whole lot shorter than The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, and a good deal more Jewish than Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Joann Sfar’s graphic novel is hilarious, poignant, and wise. And now that I’m done reading it for the first time, I’m going to read it again.”
–Adam Langer, author of Crossing California
“An affecting, fraught, and–yes–sometimes hilarious tour de force about the complexities of living faithfully in a godless world.”
–The Boston Globe
“In The Rabbi’s Cat, Joann Sfar’s words and pictures mingle in a dance both sacred and skeptical, perfectly graceful and clumsily human. I loved this book and I’m so grateful Sfar’s brilliance has finally been brought to America. He is one of the brightest cartoonists in the world!”
–Craig Thompson, author of Blankets
I once boarded with a Jewish family in Strasbourg. Their lives were much different from those of New York Jews; they kept a lower profile, avoided gentiles, and their eating habits were more like those of their neighbors (no bagels, herring, or kugel on their table). British Jews, respectively, make a greater effort to appear "English" while avoiding non-Jews. You won't see cockneys eating in Jewish delis (not that I saw any Jewish delis in London aside from Bloom's).
The Rabbi's Cat has a very quirky story that's not easy to summarize. A scrawny cat gains the power of speech and engages his master, a Rabbi, in debates. The Rabbis gorgeous daughter, having no interest in philosophy (and having no work to do) loves this cat as if he were an irritating younger sibling.
Zlabya is your typical Arabian-Nights-Fantasy though she happens to be Jewish. She marries a French Jew of Turkish origin, and some funny conflicts arise; he bores her, she feels self-conscious of her background, and her father isn't sure why the French Jews lack vitality. Or is he just too... full of life?
I'm glad that graphic-novel fans will learn about the Jews of France thanks to this book. The Jews have been an important part of French society for years, but with the way things are going now, it may not last. Jews have been leaving France in greater number since 2001, and I hope they don't all leave for Israel, UK, or the USA. It would be a shame for France to lose such a great part of its culture.