The Rabbi's Cat

The Rabbi's Cat

5.0 2
by Joann Sfar
     
 

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The preeminent work by one of France’s most celebrated young comics 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,

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Overview

The preeminent work by one of France’s most celebrated young comics 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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“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

Publishers Weekly
Sfar, the French cartoonist behind the Little Vampire children's books, has come up with a hilarious and wildly original graphic novel for adults. The nameless, scraggly-looking alley cat who narrates the story belongs to an Algerian rabbi in the '30s. When the cat eats a parrot, he gains the power of speech and tries to convince his master to teach him the Torah, raising the question of whether the appropriate age for his bar mitzvah should be in human years or cat years. Of course, being a cat, he has plenty of impertinent opinions about Judaism. That's a delicious setup on its own, but it gets better when the cat loses his speech again halfway through, and the story becomes a broader, more bittersweet comedy about the rabbi's family and the intersection of Jewish, Arab and French culture. The rabbi's daughter Zlabya marries a young man from a nonobservant family in France. The Algerian family's visit with their Parisian in-laws is the subject of the final and funniest section of the book. Sfar's artwork looks as mangy and unkempt as the cat, with contorted figures and scribbly lines everywhere, but there's a poetic magic to it that perfectly captures this cat's-eye view of human culture and faith. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An Algerian rabbi's cat gains the power of speech, giving it all the greater ability for mischief. This first major English-language graphic novel by French comic whirlwind Sfar (Dungeon, 2004, etc.) is an initially whimsical but ultimately bracing fable. Set in 1930s French colonial Algeria, the story concerns a rabbi's cat that learns to speak after eating its master's talking parrot. The rabbi-a rotund and somewhat underappreciated fellow who's in danger of being supplanted by a younger and more book-smart rabbi from France-is devastated by this development, especially when he finds the cat has a sarcastic tongue and likes to get into tangled theological debates. The story meanders about in an easygoing manner, following the rabbi's daughter's love life, a journey to Paris and the cat's various musings on life-when, that is, he's not causing trouble ("I tell the rabbi's rabbi that I am God, who has taken the appearance of a cat in order to test him"). Although dusted with fantasy, the book is powerfully real, etched with the dark shadows of an ancient society where Jews, French and Arabs mixed, a world soon to be swept away by the winds of war and modernity. Sfar's artwork is playfully exaggerated, adding to the otherworldly feel here, while his writing is smart and sharp, perfectly counteracting any burgeoning colonial-era nostalgia the pages might evoke. An unexpectedly haunting work from a major talent.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375714641
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/22/2007
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
152
Sales rank:
358,040
Product dimensions:
7.89(w) x 10.25(h) x 0.42(d)
Age Range:
16 - 18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“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

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