Graphic Novels can be beautiful, informative, funny, moving and sad. Rufus Marigold is all of these. Rufus Marigold is the alter ego of the author, and he is living with anxiety. He is depicted as a hybrid man/chimpanzee – successfully placing Rufus as ‘other’ but also as ‘familiar’, for we see Rufus’ world through the distortion of his anxiety, where he is an outsider, un-liked, a failure.
Pearly Gates is a very important man, in his own eyes. He has been the Mayor of a small north Otago town for some years, and at the beginning of the book he is considering running for a third term. He was almost an All Black. He runs a successful independent real estate business. But all is not well with this picture.
Tales of female hysteria and possession emerge from both Eastern and Western traditions; the term hysteria coming from hustéra, the Ancient Greek word for womb. In patriarchal societies this female bias suggests the question: What choice did women have? But a better question, and one raised by Christine Wunnicke in The fox and Dr Shimamura, is: Who were diagnosing the men?
Identity is at the heart of this amazing novel, mainly set in post-perestroika Russia and Kazakhstan. The Koryo-saram are ethnic Koreans, people Stalin termed The Unreliable People, descendants of those who fled to Vladivostok from Korea, who were then deported to The Kazakh SSR by Stalin, and then after the crumbling of the Soviet Union, ended up living in Kazakhstan. They share history and stories from each of these places: Are they Korean, Kazakh or Russian?
In Mama’s last hug, primatologist Frans de Waal follows up his superb Are we smart enough to know how smart animals are, which dealt with animal intelligence, with an exploration of animal (including human) emotions. The title refers to an incident (the video of which went viral) where a chimpanzee in her final days, who has been refusing food, sees that the biologist who used to work with her has come to say goodbye: Mama breaks out into a wonderful smile, calls out to him and hugs him affectionately. Mama’s behaviour is immediately recognizable as an expression of emotions and feelings – yet for many years, zoology and human psychology has denied the presence of emotions and feelings in animals.
Ophelia is an archivist and historian who possesses the unique talent of being able to read the history of objects and the people who have handled them. She can also pass through mirrors. Ophelia lives with her loving, sprawling, argumentative extended family on Anima, a matriarchal Ark, ruled by the all powerful Doyennes, who control the futures of their family and liaise with the family Spirit, an immortal ancestor