BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

The Structure Is Rotten, Comrade by Viken Berberian, illustrated by Yann Kebbi [in Booklist]

Professor Frunz isn’t much of a teacher – nor are his students particularly engaged. While he rushes through an architectural tour of Yerevan, Armenia’s capital, one student repeatedly asks which details will be on the midterm while another plots how she’ll become the next, Pritzker Prize-winning Kazuyo Sejima; she is willing to use her overly endowed assets to get ahead.

Helming Yerevan’s Radical Architecture Department with his general director father, more commonly known as Mr. Cement, Frunz champions the chaos of wrecking balls and senseless construction, inspired by Le Corbusier, whose work taught him (ironically) “the unbearable lightness of falling in love with cement.” Both father and son’s “radical vision” is blatantly out of sync with a city whose citizens are more concerned about food, housing, and safety. Survival will require escape.

Armenian novelist Viken Berberian’s ruined landscapes find synergistic manifestation in Yann Kebbi’s art, filled with frantic scrawls of riotous colored pencils and markers. Revolts – against subjugation, occupation, blind entitlement, utter greed – burst forth with much force, a vital reminder that revolution cannot be contained on the page.

Review: “Graphic Novels,” Booklist, May 15, 2019

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2019


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