cover image What We Don’t Talk About

What We Don’t Talk About

Charlot Kristensen. Avery Hill, $14.95 (108p) ISBN 978-1-91-039555-4

Dinner with upper-crust British parents turns into a feast of racist microaggressions in Kristensen’s pointed debut graphic novella. Zimbabwe-born artist Farai is excited to finally meet the parents of her white boyfriend, Adam, but the romantic countryside weekend sours as Adam’s mother, Martha, offers casually racist commentary on African cultures (“it’s all very similar in the end... aren’t they all into dancing and colourful attires?”), Muslim refugees (“looking to sponge off our country”), and Farai’s outfits (“Oh that’s...interesting.”). When Farai turns to Adam for support, he defends his mom and pins the problem on Farai’s “sensitivity”: “Why do you always have to make everything about racism?” In one scene, the family and Farai paddle out on a lake and Farai’s face visibly holds in fury—suppressed so as to literally not rock the boat. Kristensen pours detail into the textures of Farai’s wardrobe and imbues her glances with a knowing wariness. Though a touch brief, it’s accessible for teen readers and newbies to the graphic form thanks to its straightforward plotline and courageous heroine. This bittersweet cautionary tale plays out a different kind of love story—one where Farai makes sure to love herself first. Agent: Thao Le, Dijkstra Literary (Sept.)