Por­tu­gal

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews Graphic Novels -

Cyril Pe­drosa NBM Pub­lish­ing (DE­CEM­BER) Hard­cover $39.99 (264pp) 978-1-68112-147-5

Cyril Pe­drosa trans­forms his per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence of dis­cov­er­ing fam­ily roots into a semi-au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal mas­ter­piece, the award-win­ning graphic novel Por­tu­gal.

The fic­tion­al­ized pro­tag­o­nist is Si­mon Muchat, who finds him­self unin­spired in his ca­reer and ro­man­tic life. Muchat lives in France, but when he’s in­vited to a comics con­ven­tion in Por­tu­gal, he takes the op­por­tu­nity to re­con­nect with the rel­a­tives who stayed in Por­tu­gal when Si­mon’s grand­fa­ther moved to France per­ma­nently.

Si­mon learns Por­tuguese and delves into his fam­ily his­tory while adapt­ing to a sim­pler way of life. The process leads him to a new un­der­stand­ing of his some­times-dis­tant fa­ther Jean, his de­ceased grand­fa­ther Abel, and the de­ci­sions that changed the course of their lives.

Por­tu­gal is di­vided into three sec­tions, based on the per­spec­tives of Si­mon, his fa­ther, and his grand­fa­ther, but the book’s nar­ra­tive is seam­less, flow­ing nat­u­rally from one point of view to the next.

The art of trans­lat­ing a book from French to English while keep­ing in­tact large amounts of Por­tuguese di­a­logue is not with­out its dan­gers, but it’s done well here, main­tain­ing the re­laxed tone of Si­mon’s Por­tuguese rel­a­tives, as well as the of­ten clipped tone of Si­mon’s in­ter­ac­tions in France.

Pe­drosa’s art is out­stand­ing, com­bin­ing the warmth and vi­tal­ity of sketch­work with an eye for de­tail and fa­cial ex­pres­sions. The book’s pal­ette of col­ors also helps to draw out­siders into the very per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence of Por­tu­gal—a book that de­serves ev­ery bit of the at­ten­tion it has gar­nered.

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