Alpha: Abidjan to Paris
Alpha: Abidjan to Paris
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Annotation: Determined to reunite with his family, Alpha sets off from his home in Cote d'Ivoire, bound for Paris, where his sister-in-law has a hair salon near the Gare du Nord train station. Alpha's wife and son left for France months ago and he has not heard from them since. All along his long journey, Alpha keeps their photograph close to his heart.
Catalog Number: #171849
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Special Formats: Graphic Novel Graphic Novel
Publisher: Consortium
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Illustrator: Barroux,
Pages: 126 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-942658-40-0
ISBN 13: 978-1-942658-40-5
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017041467
Dimensions: 27 cm.
Language: English
Kirkus Reviews
This graphic novel from author Bessora, illustrator Barroux (How Many Trees?, 2019, etc.), and translator Ardizzone follows a migrant's arduous journey from West Africa to Europe.Alpha is a cabinetmaker in the Ivory Coast who wants to take his family to visit his sister-in-law in Paris, but he runs into a mountain of red tape when applying for a visa. "When you leave the consulate, one thing's for sure—you understand that Côte d'Ivoire loves France more than France loves Côte d'Ivoire," explains Alpha, before wryly adding, "But, seeing as Côte d'Ivoire doesn't love its own people very much either, Ivorians still flee for Europe." So Alpha goes into debt to pay a smuggler to start his wife and son on their journey to France. Six months later, Alpha sells his cabinet shop to pay yet another smuggler in hopes of following his family's path. The book has the appearance of a photo album, most pages presenting a stack of two equal-sized, rectangular images with a short paragraph of Alpha's deeply human narration beneath each illustration, documenting his journey. As Alpha quickly learns, the road out of Africa is beset with con men, drunken soldiers, endless dusty desert, and death—but also kindred spirits. Barroux's illustrations have a deceptively simple quality, with heavy lines and people with dots for eyes and bulbous, shiny noses; that simplicity makes an ill migrant's hollow stare or the stiff joints of a body left to rot all the more haunting. Bessora is a fiction writer whose work "is underpinned by extensive research," according to the author bio, though the origin of this story is unspecified. It is a compelling tale, though major events transpire in the text-only epilogue, which is delivered by an omniscient narrator rather than Alpha, robbing the conclusion of some of its heft.Heartbreaking and timely.
Publishers Weekly
A migrant-s harrowing journey to follow his wife and son to Paris from Côte d-Ivoire unfolds in an illustrated narrative that reveals the difficult existences of African migrants. The reason for Alpha-s family-s flight isn-t clear; though he says of Côte d-Ivoire, -if you stay here, you-ll be dead,- he does not explain the danger more specifically. After being denied a French visa, Alpha travels illicitly across desert borders and then earns money for passage across the Mediterranean by working in camps and villages in Mali. Along the way, he collects a makeshift traveling family: a youth who dreams of playing professional soccer, a young sex worker, and a small boy who is on his own. Alpha strives to keep this group together all the way to the Moroccan coast, but the dangers along the way make separation inevitable. The impressionistic watercolor marker renderings of characters and settings convey mood, but the people and places are just as blurry and unsolid as Alpha-s dreamlike narrative. Solidity comes in the end in the form of a third-person epilogue, which abruptly concludes the story. Though the volume doesn-t give easy answers and would have benefitted from a bit more story detail, it nonetheless movingly depicts Alpha-s challenging passage. (May)

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Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
Reading Level: 7.0
Interest Level: 9+

Doctors Without Borders Prize PEN Promotes Award GLLI (Global Literature in Libraries Initiative) Translated YA Book Prize Shortlist CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal Longlist Library Journal "Best Book of the Year" selection School Library Journal "Best Adult Book 4 Teens" selection Comics Journal "Best Comic of the Year" selection "Barroux's raw illustrations and Bessora's matter-of-fact text express the inhumanity at the heart of the refugee crisis." -- School Library Journal "Best Adult Book 4 Teens" citation Alpha's wife and son left Côte d'Ivoire months ago to join his sister-in-law in Paris, but Alpha has heard nothing from them since. With a visa, Alpha's journey to reunite with his family would take a matter of hours. Without one, he is adrift for over a year, encountering human traffickers in the desert, refugee camps in northern Africa, overcrowded boats carrying migrants between the Canary Islands and Europe's southern coast, and an unforgettable cast of fellow travelers lost and found along the way. Throughout, Alpha stays the course, carrying his loved ones' photograph close to his heart as he makes his perilous trek across continents. Featuring emotive, full-color artwork created in felt-tip pen and wash, Alpha is an international award-winning graphic novel supported by Amnesty International that received the PEN Promotes Award and Doctors Without Borders Prize, and was longlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal. The U.S. edition is sponsored by Le Korsa, a nonprofit organization devoted to improving human lives in Senegal. Bessora is an award-winning writer of Swiss, German, French, Polish, and Gabonese heritage whose work has been anthologized in Best European Fiction . Barroux is a French graphic artist who spent much of his childhood in North Africa and whose illustrations have appeared in the New York Times , Washington Post , and Forbes .

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