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Reading List: The Hookah Girl (and Other True Stories)

I continue along the line of what is becoming a reading list on graphic novels around the subject of diversity, gender-based violence and integration in general. Today… The Hookah Girl and Other True Stories by Marguerite Dabaie In this current political climate, being a Palestinian is a hazard. However, there are common grounds where East meets […]

I continue along the line of what is becoming a reading list on graphic novels around the subject of diversity, gender-based violence and integration in general. Today…

COVER-FRONT-lowres

The Hookah Girl and Other True Stories
by Marguerite Dabaie

In this current political climate, being a Palestinian is a hazard. However, there are common grounds where East meets West. The Hookah Girl is a semi-autobiographical graphic novel of a childhood as a Christian Palestinian in America. Told in short stories and with narrative ranging from growing up in a refugee family to how to roll waraq (stuffed grape leaves), this book is an account of living in two seemingly different cultures that actually aren’t very different at all.

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It’s hard to use the word “delightful” for something so hard, sometimes raw, and yet it’s the definition I would use for this collection of illustrated stories in which you’ll find everything, from intimists reflections to kitchen instruction, down to paper dolls and historical sketches.

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A hookah also known as the qalyân (Persian: قلیان‎), is that device for vaporizing and smoking herbs through water, also known in Italian as a narghilè. You can see it used on the front cover. It is a recollection of home, for the girl, and she uses as a symbol of the far-away culture she can never return to, specifically a cultural festival that she would go to as a kid, every year, where you could rent hookahs to take woith you while you wandered around.

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The novel is filled with such symbols, stories of how you perceive home when you have to listen to the stories another culture tells about it, struggles around integration and around being a woman refugee between two world that expect women to behave in very different ways but are, ultimately, very very similar.

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2 Comments

  1. Il tuo blog è sempre più interessante, e ti faccio tanti complimenti per le cose che scrivi. Un paio di settimane fa ti avevo mandato un email, ma temo che non ti sia mai arrivato. Quest’anno non saremo in Italia per le feste, ma ci tenevo a farmi viva prima della fine dell’anno come secondo tradizione.

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