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Joann Sfar 2020

Rabbi's cat

Rabbi's cat

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Author: Joann Sfar
Publisher: Baobab
Language: Czech
Release year: 2020

Rabbi's cat is a very peculiar creature. He is a member of the family of the Algerian rabbi Sfar, the author's long-ago ancestor, he got the gift of speech when he ate a talking parrot, and since then he is pretty talkative, glosses over the events around him and brazenly argues on various topics - he is a Jewish cat, after all. We follow him on his adventurous journeys not only across the rooftops of Algiers in the 1920s, but also to modern cosmopolitan Paris, with the rabbi's cousin Malka, the king of lions, among desert peoples or to the interior of Africa with an Ashkenazi Russian Jew looking for an African Jerusalem.

The author perfectly captures the atmosphere of the time, the coexistence of Jews, Arabs and French Catholics, sometimes surprisingly tolerant, other times falling apart. Joanna Sfar's comics will delight not only lovers of cats and Jewish thought. They are full of sun, color, lightness and humor - and also surprisingly deep philosophical, ethical and religious questions.

It seems to me that the problems of Algeria in the 1920s are very similar to the problems of Europe today - because it is more or less the same peoples who are troubled by the same worries and argue about the same issues. Embedding this topic in a fairytale framework can contribute to thinking about today.

I wanted to write a fairy tale that brings this issue to the Maghreb, where my family on my father's side came from, for one simple reason: because the Maghreb is a cosmopolitan country where neither ethnic nor religious purity has ever prevailed. People have debated, mingled, and fought here since time immemorial. I have tried to capture the magic of this world in order to argue with the supposed "golden age" that is trying to impose itself on us from both sides. (Joann Sfar)

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