cover image An Olympic Dream: The Story of Samia Yusuf Omar

An Olympic Dream: The Story of Samia Yusuf Omar

Reinhard Kleist, trans by Ivanka Hahnenberger. Abrams/SelfMadeHero, $22.95 (152p) ISBN 978-1-910593-09-7

“Running feels like flying... No one can catch you,” says Omar, the true-life hero of this graphic novel biography by the author of the Eisner-nominated Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness. Opening with her dead-last finish in the 200-meter race at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, Samia’s dream of training to go to the 2012 London Olympics is thwarted by harsh reality. A teenager in Mogadishu, she faces death threats and violence from local militants, and sexism and political red tape attempting to train in Ethiopia. Deciding to train in Italy, she joins the long, hard journey undertaken by thousands of Somalian nationals, smuggled by corrupt human traffickers into Europe. Kleist’s script (in an artful translation by Hahnenberger) traces Samia’s journey with subtlety and bold, vigorous brushstrokes of black ink that match the motion and fluidity of her races. Expect no happy ending: Samia dies on the sea in transit from Libya to Malta. Kleist’s treatment of her quest is heartbreaking and inspirational, putting a human face to Europe’s current migration question. (Apr.)