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Archive for the ‘Graphic Novels & Comics’ Category

For the topic of international young adult literature there are not very many subject guides, and the ones that do exist are not recent. Hazel Rochman’s excellent guide, Against Borders, only provides suggestions for titles up until 1993; Carl Tomlinson’s related Children’s Books from Other Countries (which includes young adults under the umbrella of ‘children’) was published in 1998; and finally, Susan Stan’s more recent The World through Children’s Books (which also includes young adults under ‘children’) stops at 2000.

A lot has changed since 2000 in young adult literature. Manga, and graphic novels now dominate our shelves, and fantasy and humor have experienced resurgence. Not only this, but globally things have changed too.

Given changes since 2000, what does international YA look like today?

To try and answer this question (on a small scale), I have updated the site with a list of 25 new and recent titles from 2000-Present. Some are award winning, some are popular, and some are hidden gems, but I think they are all worth considering as new and notable international YA reads to add to our bookshelves.

Titles come from all regions (Africa, Asia, Australia/NZ, Europe, Latin America, and Middle East), most are category #3 and #4 selections only (titles originally published abroad in translation or in English), and the list also reflects emerging trends in international YA with selected graphic titles – like Shaun Tan’s The Arrival (below) – alongside a broader range of subjects, like fantasy and humor, than might normally be found on many international booklists.

Each annotated entry includes:

  • author
  • country of origin
  • country/region of story setting
  • domestic publisher
  • plot summary
  • recommended age ranges for readers
  • * lastly, if relevant, there is also a note on format – i.e. all graphic novels in this list are marked with a ‘GN’

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theArrivalmain_061108050946837_wideweb__300x460Arrival, The (GN)

Tan, Shaun. (2007). New York: Arthur A. Levine Books. ISBN: 978-0439895293. 128 p. (12+). Country/Language of Original Publication: Australia; English. Setting: Australia/NZ (Australia)

Winner of numerous awards and accolades in Australian and internationally (including the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award and the New York Times Best Illustrated Book 2007), this picture book describes the story of immigration told through the eyes of immigrants. There are no words in  this work; instead amid the fantastical cityscapes that Tan creates through artfully rendered sepia tone drawings, there are unusual symbols that mirror the initial frustration and confusion upon immigration to a new place. The Arrival beautifully captures the loneliness, excitement, fear, and wonder of moving to a different place that is sure to resonate with any reader.

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Want to see more titles? Check out International YA Today: 25 New and Recent Titles….

…and for even more titles check out my Retrospective and Expanded International YA (organized by region and country) that goes beyond this list of 25 ‘International YA Today’ titles.

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kite-runnerbook-thief-2The Alex and Michael L. Printz Awards are awarded every year by YALSA to honor noteworthy children’s and young adult literature. The Alex and Printz Awards, however, do not specifically recognize international titles, but global YA titles have often appeared on these award lists – especially in recent years.

The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that YALSA has identified has having special appeal for YA readers. In 2004, the Alex Awards honored two international books – The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (published in the US but set in Afghanistan) and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (published originally in France but set in Iran around the time of the Islamic Revolution).

The Michael L. Printz Award nominates one book a year as an ‘exceptional’ work of YA literature, and honors four additional titles as ‘honor books.’ The current 2009 Printz winner, Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road is from Australia and other international books recognized by the Printz Awards include Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief (also from Australia), an honor book in 2007, and Chanda’s Secrets by Allan Stratton (published in Canada but set in sub-Saharan Africa), which was an honor book in 2005.

It is notable that these titles are, for the most part, books published in the US, Canada or Europe — and set elsewhere. Many of these tiles  are written by authors who grew up in these countries as children – like Satrapi writing about Iran or Hosseini about Afghanistan – but it interesting again to see both the prominence of these more ‘Western’ international books (or categories #1 and #2 of international YA that I have defined here) and the continued notoriety and attention given to international books that deal specifically with war, genocide, and mass violence. This includes a title like the The Book Thief – a WWII story narrated by Death himself and centred around Nazi book burning and the attempt to preserve knowledge through this fire.

But this is not always the case with the Alex or Printz Awards. In 2001, the Prinz Award nominated a very different type of international title as an honor book – Louise Rennison’s hilarious and confessional tale from the perspective of a teen girl, Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging (from the UK).

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rose-blancheThe Hans Christian Andersen Award is presented once every two years by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) to both an author and illustrator who had made a mark on children’s publishing over their lifetimes; as such, the award is often called the ‘little Nobel prize.’ In 2008, Jürg Schubiger from Switzerland was named the winner of the 2008 Hans Christian Andersen Author Award and Roberto Innocenti from Italy the winner of the 2008 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration—Innocenti won notoriety in North America for his graphic Holocaust picture book, Rose Blanche (1985).

The René Goscinny Prize (named after the comic creator of Asterix) is awarded annually at the Angoulême International Comics Festival to encourage new and upcoming international comic artists; previous winners have included Jean-Philippe Stassen from Belgium for his graphic novel of the Rwandan genocide, Deogratias, in 2000. The Angoulême International Comics Festival also awards a prize, the Fauve d’Or, for best comic book. Previous winners of this prize include Fax from Sarajevo by Joe Kubert, a non-fiction documentary-style graphic novel about the siege of Sarajevo that won in 1998.

The Angoulême prizes and the Hans Christian Andersen prize do tend to favor more more established authors and illustrators (except for the René Goscinny Award), and entries from European countries are most prominent. As well as the IBBY selections for the Hans Christian Andersen Award cover the whole spectrum of ‘children’s litertaure’  — with some works like Inncoenti’s Rose Blanche being very appropriate for young adults, while other works are more targeted to very young children. Yet, these award lists are excellent ways to become aware of international picture books and graphic novels—both of which are very popular items in the library and bookstore right now.

deogratiasAfaxfromsarajevo

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It is official: Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) has gone digital.

There is now an ACK iphone app (offered on iremedi).

Picture 1

…and I also found that Chacha Chaudhary (the sort of ‘Asterix’ of India) and his sidekick Sabu even have their own Facebook page.

New social media — making international YA more accessible to a wider audience?

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RamaThe GitaIn North America, there is Marvel and DC Comics, but in India there is Amar Chitra Katha (ACK).

These comics, dating back to the late 1960s, have over 400 volumes with stories ranging from the traditional, like Ramayana, to the biographical, with stories about Shah Jahan (builder of the Taj Mahal and one of the great Muslim kings of India) and Gandhi – and sell over 1.5 million copies yearly, making it one of (if not the) most popular children’s series in India (ACK Media, 2009).

A North American religious studies professor, Karline McLain, has recently released a book all about these comics called, India’s Immortal Comic Books — a title that was just profiled in an article, ‘The Legacy of Amar Chitra Katha‘, from Business World (one of India’s most popular business magazines).

McLain notes that these comics, especially the ‘superhero’ like tales of Hanuman and other Hindu gods, have also had great global appeal through the widespread communities of the South Asian diaspora. McLain attributes this appeal both to ACK’s focus on Indian culture and heritage and its highly engaged superhero-like format and style. ACK is even a integral part of many Hindu temple libraries throughout N. America, according to McLain, with parents stocking the libraries with ACK as a way to educate, inform and engage with young adults and teens about their Indian religious heritage (McLain, p. 204).

As a source of international YA, ACK is excellent for its popular format (comics), its enduring history and appeal – and its accessibility. Though ACK was in decline through the 1990s–partially due to the massively popular televised versions of the Ramayana and Mahabharata– the brand has been reinvigorated through the work of ACK Media, which offers ACK titles in a variety of languages (including English, Hindi and Bengali), formats (including bound collected graphic novels) and ships titles worldwide for FREE on orders over $50.

Given that there is an identified lack of widespread YA literature produced in India versus the thriving North American YA market (Rangachari, 2009), these comics provide a great, accessible and easy way to begin a cornerstone collection of Indian YA books in the library. Perhaps surprisingly, I have seen ACK referred to in only a few subject guides for this area — Venture into Cultures (2001) being one of them. But, given ACK Media’s plans for ACK expansion – video games, an animated series and movies are but a few of their plans to bring ACK into the 21st century –  I think we will start to see more of these ‘immortal’ comics.

Amar Chitra Katha – a recommended purchase for any library.

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References:

shah jahan

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town boyfilm projectorI have updated the site with two new lists: a list of ‘Great Global Graphix‘ with graphic novels and picture books from a variety of locales and a list of ‘Fantastic Films from Afar,’ which has suggestions for animated films, docudramas, and even horror films from afar.

Though the central focus of my blog and research project is to collect and evaluate international young adult books, I have chosen to expand the scope of my collection to also include films and graphix both due to emerging multi-media trends within the library, as well as very real issues of accessibility in collecting for this topic. These two formats are very popular and circulate well within the library, yet they appear on few ‘international’ lists I have seen, in spite of the relative ease of access in obtaining these titles — i.e. international films are much easier to access with subtitles than books in translation might be, and manga and graphic novels are some of the most popular works of ‘international YA’ currently on our shelves.

These lists are organized by title, and each include summaries and country designations – both for publication and, if different than country of publication, for story setting. These lists are a work in progress though so if there are titles or films I have overlooked, please comment with any suggestions for additions.

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