Joe and Azat

Jesse Lonergan, Author . NBM $10.95 (101p) ISBN 978-1-56163-570-2

Culling material from his days as a Peace Corps worker in Turkmenistan, Lonergan follows his graphic novel, Flower & Fade , with this charming and engrossing study of a friendship that transcends cultural borders. American Joe works as a teacher in post-Soviet Turkmenistan and acts as our fish-out-of-water everyman, confronted with customs and ways of thought that seem frustratingly pointless. Meanwhile, his native Turkmen friend Azat constantly finds his idealized impression of Americans and their society brought crashing to earth by Joe's reality checks. Joe (and the reader) are taken in by Azat's eternally sunny personality and ambitions that exceed his dreamer's reality, taking us from one flight of entrepreneurial or romantic fancy to another while letting us get to know Azat's highly critical mother and his bitter, alcoholic brother. Less of a straightforward narrative than a study of two very different men and the situations they find themselves in, this is a simply illustrated charmer that grips readers from its opening pages and remains on the mind well after it has been read and absorbed. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 12/07/2009
Release date: 11/01/2009
Genre: Fiction
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