When it comes to epic books which can change the way you read, there is only a few in the great literary canon that can do that. Those of us who voraciously read books are constantly in search of that same feeling, every time we pick one up. If you’re lucky enough, you may get that feeling a few more times, and each time it gets better. I remember the first book that I felt spoke to me. It was Holler If You Hear Me by Nathan McCall, which was an autobiography of how it is to grow up with the hardships with being a man of color.
I would go on to find that feeling a few more times, with not only nonfiction books but also fiction books. One of those books being the Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini which is about a man who goes back home to war laden Iran to rescue his friend’s son. The book gave a view of that part of the world which is only known to most readers, when it came to their geopolitical issues. In Nicholas Wild’s Kabul Disco, we get a much in depth look at Afghanistan, and it’s one which is more interesting than the new media would paint it as.
It’s 2005. Nicolas Wild is a French cartoonist. He’s broke and about to be homeless. He’s a man without a plan. That is until destiny shows up in his inbox: a paid job… In Afghanistan! Kabul Disco explores the differences between the Afghan cultures around him and his own, as he and his fellow expat friends crash Asura celebrations, avoid the afterlife, and muse on the differences between Christian Easter egg hunts and Islamic penance.
In the graphic novel we meet Nicholas, a young French cartoonist, who gets a job in Kabul, Afghanistan, out of all places, which pushes him out of his comfort zone and expands his horizon. As he gets back in country, he soon finds his job has him covering the recent news rash about the nation’s war on opium or what looks to be one. The government looks to be active against the drug trade, which looks to be dangerous for anyone who has a dissenting opinion on the matter including Nicholas and his co-workers. Meanwhile, outside of work, he lives with a local family where he quickly finds out how the different sexes dined separately, the joys and struggles of being an expatriate, political protests, the inherent kindness of strangers, and the major differences between Islamic and Catholic customs. As Nicholas and his co-workers investigate deeper into the opium crisis, they soon find out the roots of how opium became so powerful and how it was affecting the election the country was having.
Overall, the graphic novel is a relevant and charming travel memoir that gives readers worldwide a view of a country most really knows about. The story by Wild is comical, touching, and illuminating. The art by Wild is unique and extraordinary. Altogether, it’s a graphic novel which will at the very least take readers away for a few hours to a place which only becomes more fascinating with Wild’s adventures.
Story: Nicholas Wild Art: Nicholas Wild
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy