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One of the Globe & Mail’s 100 Best Books of 2018
A timely collection of work about race and immigration in Paris by one of France's most revered cult comic book artists.
Yvan Alagbé is one of the most innovative and provocative artists in the world of comics. In the stories gathered in Yellow Negroes and Other Imaginary Creatures—drawn between 1994 and 2011, and never before available in English—he uses stark, endlessly inventive black-and-white brushwork to explore love and race, oppression and escape. It is both an extraordinary experiment in visual storytelling and an essential, deeply personal political statement.
With unsettling power, the title story depicts the lives of undocumented migrant workers in Paris. Alain, a Beninese immigrant, struggles to protect his family and his white girlfriend, Claire, while engaged in a strange, tragic dance of obsession and repulsion with Mario, a retired French Algerian policeman. It is already a classic of alternative comics, and, like the other stories in this collection, becomes more urgent every day.
This NYRC edition is an oversized paperback with French flaps, printed endpapers, and extra-thick paper, and features new English hand-lettering and a brand-new story, exclusive to this edition.
About the Author
Yvan Alagbé was born in Paris and spent three years of his youth in West Africa. He returned to study mathematics and physics at the Université de Paris-Sud, where he met Olivier Marboeuf. Alagbé and Marboeuf founded a contemporary visual arts review called L’oeil carnivore and the magazine Le Chéval sans tête (“The Headless Horse”), which gained a cult following for its publication of innovative graphic art and comics. Labeling these artistic collaborations as “Dissidence Art Work,” Alagbé and Marboeuf soon founded their own publishing house, Amok, drawing from the material serialized in Le Chéval, including the first version of Yellow Negroes and Other Imaginary Creatures. In 2001, Amok partnered with the publishing group Fréon to establish the Franco-Belgian collaboration Frémok, now a major European graphic novels publisher. Alagbé lives in Paris.
Donald Nicholson-Smith is an award-winning translator of French literature. He has translated Jean-Patrick Manchette’s Fatale and The Mad and the Bad, Jean-Paul Clébert’s Paris Vagabond (all NYRB Classics), and the forthcoming NYR Comics title The Green Hand and Other Stories by Nicole Claveloux. He lives in New York City.
"Alagbé’s sharp, mesmerizing images catch the eye, and they compel you to continue reading. These difficult stories stick with you, continuing to turn over and over in your head.” —Shea Hennum, The AV Club’s '25 Best Comics of the 2010s'
"With poetic, elliptical text and stark, impressionistic black-and-white art, French cartoonist Alagbé reveals the toxic legacy of European colonialism upon individuals and families." —Library Journal
"A timely collection about race and immigration in Paris by one of France's most revered cult comic book artists. Alagbé uses stark, endlessly inventive black-and-white brushwork to explore love and race, oppression and escape." —Publishers Weekly
"One of the most arresting comics works to hit stands in a good long while.” —Abraham Riesman, Vulture
“Nègres is one of those works that becomes emblematic not just of its publisher, but of a particular moment in comics. Where the individual parts just click, where every creative decision feels right and supports the author’s intent, while retaining the spark of youthful ambition. . . . The book . . . deserves attention. It is a bold and nakedly intense effort to represent the way bereavement may trigger memories, dreams, and rationalization, as well as to describe how, like it or not, family dictates our lives.” —The Comics Journal