cover image Yellow Negroes and Other Imaginary Creatures

Yellow Negroes and Other Imaginary Creatures

Yvan Alagbé, trans. from the French by Donald Nicholson-Smith. New York Review Comics, $22.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-68137-176-4

France’s colonial history and current racial tensions underpin this dynamically drawn collection. Expanding on the characters in The School of Misery (2013), Alagbé explores themes of disconnection among Africans living in France and the uneasiness the native French feel in their presence. Some pieces provide sharp commentary on the enduring existence of colonial attitudes. “Postcard from Montreuil” is a straightforward depiction of the occupation of an employment agency by Malian laborers. “Sand Niggers” ties the 1961 Paris massacre of Algerians to the current migrant crisis, then ties it off with a mystical flourish. The more sprawling, Flaubert-inspired title story weaves together the experiences of a white French woman whose father hates her seeing “a black” with her boyfriend’s trouble finding work and security (“pain and pride are two needles under his skin”) and his family’s harassment by a lonely old white man who fought in the African colonial wars. Alagbé’s unstructured storytelling makes as strong an impression as his artwork’s contrast between dramatic black slashes and negative space. His imagery and text together create haunting narratives in which a past of racism and guilt keeps overwhelming the present, and also the reader. [em](Apr.) [/em]