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This is the first of two volumes compiling Sfar's graphic fiction stories about the Rabbi's Cat, set in pre-independence Algeria, in the local cultural tradition that gave us Jacques Derrida and Bernard-Henri Lévy. The cat (who is the narrator) learns to talk in the very first pages by eating the rabbi's parrot, and becomes a commentator on his human family and their friends, partly naïf, partly satirical, and the plot weaves between actual experience and fantasy rather pleasingly. The precarious social position of the Algerian Jewish community is very sympathetically portrayed; I felt Sfarr went a bit off the boil in the last story, when the Rabbi and his cat go to visit the son-in-law in Paris, where the Rabbi's very understandable alienation became a bit Orientalist, but I have the second volume (in English this time) on my shelves and look forward to reading it.

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