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In a world where wishes are real and sold on the open market just like anything else, they’ve been subjected to government oversight and forced out of reach of the average person. Shubeik Lubeik (translating to “your wish is my command”) explores what this would look like for three Egyptians.
So, first of all, the book was originally written in Arabic. Since it’s a graphic novel, the speech was translated into English but the art panels were left as originally printed. So it’s read from back to front and the panels are read from right to left. I thought I would struggle with the format but I got used to it within a few pages. Don’t let concerns about that hold you back at all.
That out of the way, I just need to say that this book was fantastic. It’s hefty, coming in at 518 pages, but there’s even more to to chew over and unpack than meets the eye.
It’s written in three parts (because of course a book about wishes would be written in three parts) and each takes a slightly different approach to the story. The first section features Aziza, a poor woman living with regrets who gets caught up in the corrupt laws surrounding wishes to disastrous effect. The second section is about Noor, a young person who is financially well off but who is fighting crushing depression. This was by far my favorite section. Noor creates graphs and charts showing their mood from day and day. This representation made it so easy to follow what life must be like for people who have this disease. The third section is sort of about Shorky, a devout Muslim who doesn’t believe in the wish economy but who ends up with wishes to sell, and Hagga, one of his regular shop customers. This one gets into government corruption, colonialism, arranged marriages, domestic abuse, and our ultimate right to choose our own paths.
I have a lot more to say but I would get into spoilers so I’m going to stop here. I highly, highly recommend this powerful graphic novel. It would be a great choice to read as part of a book club.
If you liked Shubeik Lubeik, you might also like my reviews of
- Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman
- Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
- Habibi by Craig Thompson
Buy Shubeik Lubeik from Malaprop’s Bookstore in beautiful Asheville, NC or