Squinting Towards Gibraltar

An Eternity in Tangiers by Faustin Titi and Eyoum Nganguè. Translated by André Naffis-Sahely. Phoneme Media, 2017. 9781939419798. 47pp plus an afterward.

Nganguè is a Camaroonian journalist living in Paris. Titi is an Ivorian artist living in Abidjan. Together they have created a short, compelling, beautifully drawn graphic novel about a young man from a fictional African city on the Atlantic coast.

Gawa’s family practically bankrupted itself to purchase the influence of a local bigshot who promised to get Gawa to Europe. The young man leaves behind his fiancée and his mother to be taken north, across drier and drier lands, before being abandoned in the desert with little water and told to walk. They are delivered to Morocco where, despite warnings, they’re taken advantage of again in their desire to cross into Spain. He’s stuck in Tangiers, where his legal attempts to leave Africa are denied and his illegal attempts are unsuccessful. The only choice he’s offered is to sell his body. Tangiers is his prison.

I love everything about this book. It’s so uninflected, it leaves all of the feeling up to the reader, whether a moment shows would-be migrants drowning or a memory of student protestors being beaten and raped back in Gawa’s hometown. It’s simple, straightforward, and amazing.

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