Banned Books: Habibi


Title: Habibi
Author: Craig Thompson
Challenged Because: Nudity, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

This graphic novel is set in what turns out to be a post-apocalyptic Middle East where the only source of non-polluted water is controlled by a decadent sultan and the majority of the populace is starving and living in piles of trash. The main characters are two escaped child slaves doing anything they can to try to survive. Which mostly involves lots of prostitution.

While the art is lavish and beautiful, I don’t know enough about Islam to critique this book effectively. All I know is, it made me uncomfortable. Craig Thompson has clearly researched the Qur’an, Islamic folktales, and art styles, but the main character’s time in the sultan’s harem complete with bitchy concubines, eunuchs, and opium addiction seems straight out of a bad 1970s romance novel. I guess when your book is set in a ~fantasy future~ you’re not really worrying about historical accuracy, but employing these tired stereotypes seems sketchy at best. Plus, every man is a rapist who sees women solely as sex objects! The only man who is not portrayed as such is a eunuch, and became one specifically to escape his desire.

So I didn’t like this book, but of course that’s not a reason for it to be taken off library shelves. As to the complaints against it, there’s a lot of sex in it, and, since it’s a graphic novel, the visuals always get people more riled than all the sex in, say, Shakespeare. I think “unsuited to age group” pops up in these challenge reports anytime a parent realizes that there’s not some gate that keeps kids out of the adult stacks where ~they might encounter a book with boobs in it~ and freaks out. The answer to that, of course, is to watch your fucking kid since librarians aren’t babysitters or the Book Police.

Previously: Nasreen’s Secret School
Next: Looking for Alaska

One response to “Banned Books: Habibi”

  1. I’m really digging the savage takedowns at the end of these reviews

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