Graphic Novel Review: Alpha

Alpha: Abidjan to Paris by Bessora and illustrated by Barroux. Translated by Sarah Ardizzone. Bellevue Literary Press, 2018. 9781942658405. 128pp.

Alpha Coulibaly, a cabinetmaker in the Ivory Coast, has had no news of his wife and child. He hopes they made it to Paris, and are at the home of his sister-in-law. But they didn’t have French visas, and neither does he, despite the fact that his grandfather fought for France in WWII. Knowing he might die before reaching Paris or finding his family, he sets out after them. His journey is difficult and expensive, long and dangerous, full of false promises and people who want to take what little he has.

The emotion of Barroux’s simple art and layouts pulled me along on Alpha’s journey. This book stands out, along with Don Brown’s The Unwanted, from other graphic novels about the current refugee crisis.


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