The Line of Beauty

Habibi, a graphic novel worthy of Scheherazade

Tanner Curtis for TIME

Habibi, a graphic novel worthy of Scheherazade

To read Craig Thompson's graphic novel Habibi is to sink into the sensuous arabesque patterns that decorate its pages. Steeped in the imagery and storytelling traditions of the Muslim world, this densely layered 672-page love story is as grand and sustained a performance as any cartoonist has published, and a rippling study in contrasts and syntheses--ancient and modern, line and language, ink and water, word and flesh.

In the beginning, a girl called Dodola escapes from slavery with a little boy she renames Zam. They spend nine years together on an abandoned ship in a desert; Dodola gets their food by...

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