W. 11th & Bluff covers A Chinese Life

May 9th, 2013 § 1 comment

W. 11th & Bluff, the official blog of the Adult Services Department at Carnegie-Stout Public Library, Dubuque, Iowa, has a some insightful reactions to reading A Chinese Life. A big shout of thanks to the people of that river city and the Fenelon Place Elevator! I remember riding that one autumn in the last hours of a chili festival during my grad school years in IC.

It is remarkable that a member of the Chinese Communist Party would be so forthcoming, and that this is happening in a graphic novel. To some Westerners though, Li’s depictions of such events may seem more like an apparatchik’s apologia than a critical attempt to understand what happened…

With a subtle mix of humor and sadness, Li examines his strained relationship with his larger-than-life father, describes an awkward moment when he asks his girlfriend if she would pose nude for his drawings, and recalls helping his elderly mother make dumplings.

Besides being a great storyteller, Li’s artwork is brilliant. A Chinese Life is illustrated almost entirely in black and white. The contrast is stark and the composition is striking. Fascinating, energetic lines reveal austere landscapes, earthy villages, and chaotic cities. Characters’ hands and faces are especially expressive. Some of the most compelling panels lack dialogue; they are simple portraits of children at school, soldiers in barracks, villagers in markets, and workers in factories.

§ One Response to W. 11th & Bluff covers A Chinese Life

  • Mike says:

    Thank you, Edward! Congratulations on A Chinese Life. Please stop by the library next time you’re in Dubuque. 🙂

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