The Rabbi's Cat
The preeminent work by one of France’s most celebrated young comic artists, The Rabbi’s Cat tells the wholly unique story of a rabbi, his daughter, and their talking cat — a philosopher brimming with scathing humor and surprising tenderness.In Algeria in the 1930s, a cat belonging to a widowed rabbi and his beautiful daughter, Zlabya, eats the family parrot and gains the ability to speak. To his master’s consternation, the cat immediately begins to tell lies (the first being that he didn’t eat the parrot). The rabbi vows to educate him in the ways of the Torah, while the cat insists on studying the kabbalah and having a Bar Mitzvah. They consult the rabbi’s rabbi, who maintains that a cat can’t be Jewish — but the cat, as always, knows better.Zlabya falls in love with a dashing young rabbi from Paris, and soon master and cat, having overcome their shared self-pity and jealousy, are accompanying the newlyweds to France to meet Zlabya’s cosmopolitan in-laws. Full of drama and adventure, their trip invites countless opportunities for the rabbi and his cat to grapple with all the important — and trivial — details of life.Rich with the colors, textures, and flavors of Algeria’s Jewish community, The Rabbi’s Cat brings a lost world vibrantly to life — a time and place where Jews and Arabs coexisted — and peoples it with endearing and thoroughly human characters, and one truly unforgettable cat.

The Rabbi's Cat Details

TitleThe Rabbi's Cat
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 16th, 2005
PublisherPantheon
ISBN-139780375422812
Rating
GenreSequential Art, Graphic Novels, Comics, Fiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Literature, Jewish, Religion, Graphic Novels Comics

The Rabbi's Cat Review

  • Melki
    January 1, 1970
    The good news is - the cat can speak!The bad news is - he only tells lies!Well, the second part is wrong, but he is one argumentative puss!He argues theology with the rabbi, and makes fun of the man's students, going so far as to follow one young man to see if he frequents a whorehouse.Cat and rabbi make a great comic duo. Observe this exchange where cat is reading aloud to the rabbi:Cat - "Because if you want I can look for a fable with only kosher animals."Rabbi - "Ah! Shut up and read."Cat - The good news is - the cat can speak!The bad news is - he only tells lies!Well, the second part is wrong, but he is one argumentative puss!He argues theology with the rabbi, and makes fun of the man's students, going so far as to follow one young man to see if he frequents a whorehouse.Cat and rabbi make a great comic duo. Observe this exchange where cat is reading aloud to the rabbi:Cat - "Because if you want I can look for a fable with only kosher animals."Rabbi - "Ah! Shut up and read."Cat - "Do you want me to shut up or read?"Despite the cute cover and talking animal theme, this is not a book for children. Besides the aforementioned brothel thing, there are discussions of human sexuality and a few depictions of hot, rooftop cat sex. Cat has definitely not been neutered.It's hard not to like Cat even though he is an insufferable smarty-pants; his arguments just make so much sense! Even I managed to learn a thing or two from him. The most important lesson? Every now and then - It's worth shutting your mouth to be happy.
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  • Nat
    January 1, 1970
    This has been on my wishlist for ages because the promise of representing practicing Jewish characters in the graphic novel format (by an #ownvoices author!!!) sounded just like my kind of thing.Set in Algeria in the 1930s, a cat belonging to a widowed rabbi and his beautiful daughter, Zlabya, eats the family parrot and gains the ability to speak. To his master’s consternation, the cat immediately begins to tell lies (the first being that he didn’t eat the parrot). The rabbi vows to educate him This has been on my wishlist for ages because the promise of representing practicing Jewish characters in the graphic novel format (by an #ownvoices author!!!) sounded just like my kind of thing.Set in Algeria in the 1930s, a cat belonging to a widowed rabbi and his beautiful daughter, Zlabya, eats the family parrot and gains the ability to speak. To his master’s consternation, the cat immediately begins to tell lies (the first being that he didn’t eat the parrot). The rabbi vows to educate him in the ways of the Torah, while the cat insists on studying the kabbalah and having a Bar Mitzvah. They consult the rabbi’s rabbi, who maintains that a cat can’t be Jewish — but the cat, as always, knows better.Zlabya falls in love with a dashing young rabbi from Paris, and soon master and cat, having overcome their shared self-pity and jealousy, are accompanying the newlyweds to France to meet Zlabya’s cosmopolitan in-laws. Full of drama and adventure, their trip invites countless opportunities for the rabbi and his cat to grapple with all the important — and trivial — details of life.There's so much I crave to discuss, so let's start at the beginning: These topics are ones I see and talk about in my daily life, but unfortunately rarely in the books I read... So I'll never stop thanking Joann Sfar for giving Jews this major platform. And I loved the concept of the cat wanting to study the Kabbalah, since I recently got myself a book on the same topic. I was expecting this book to focus heavily on Zlabya and the cat (since they're on the book cover), but that wasn't the case. The Rabbi's Cat, like the title suggest, is more about the bickering between the Rabbi and his cat, which I gradually grew fond of. On that note, I laughed uncontrollably a number of times at some of the more crude remarks made by the cat, such as: I still feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude to see these kinds of conversations in a book!!! Ha! Family is everything...But with all that I loved, once the family traveled to Paris - to meet with the family of Zlabya's husband - the narrative became a bit unclear. Plus, the emphasis on Jewish traditions being slowly dropped to make place for Western culture made the graphic novel deteriorate in quality for me. I cherished The Rabbi's Cat for solely focusing on Jews in Algeria and their customs and traditions. So when halfway through the storyline shifted to make space for Western culture, I was let down. The author had such a great opportunity to educate and enlighten people on Sephardi Jews - which he did greatly for the first half - but then in the last part decides to give the spotlight once again to the Westerns… I wish this moment would've been expanded to talk more about how messed up some white people are... All in all: The Rabbi's Cat is something I'll cherish for a long time to come; it's not everyday that you find something so close to home. And thankfully there's a movie adaptation that I plan on watching next!4.5/5 stars Note: I'm an Amazon Affiliate. If you're interested in buying The Rabbi's Cat, just click on the image below to go through my link. I'll make a small commission! This review and more can be found on my blog.
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  • Jan Rice
    January 1, 1970
    "Sfar-Rabbis Daughter". Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sfa...The Rabbi's Cat, by French artist and writer Joann Sfar is a graphic novel set in Algeria in the 1930s.Despite how his name sounds in English, the author isn't a woman. It's Joann as in Johann: John! Here he is with the model for his fictional cat: Approaching this review, all I could think of at first was cat puns: The Cat-cher in the Rye. The cat without which there is nothing. A feline of v "Sfar-Rabbis Daughter". Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sfa...The Rabbi's Cat, by French artist and writer Joann Sfar is a graphic novel set in Algeria in the 1930s.Despite how his name sounds in English, the author isn't a woman. It's Joann as in Johann: John! Here he is with the model for his fictional cat: Approaching this review, all I could think of at first was cat puns: The Cat-cher in the Rye. The cat without which there is nothing. A feline of valor--although this is a male cat, an un-neutered male cat. Cat thee behind me! And, of course, the cat's pajamas.First thing, the cat gets his tongue: he becomes able to speak. Next thing you know, he's demanding a bar mitzvah, then to study Kabbalah, and the ensuing theological consternation leads to the first adventure--or maybe it's the second already. The cat is rebellious. He's a handful. But so are the people. All are very very human, meaning contradictory, struggling, caring, and loving beings, unpredictably tangled up with each others' fates.The cat can't understand why anyone would be a rabbi:It's as if a cat took it into his head to look after the other cats.The cat doesn't accept fundamentalist theology:I answer that even a kitten would not buy this nonsense.The cat has a wolfish look about him. This is because he's some sort of skinny Oriental breed with a long nose. On Facebook the author says his cat is from Siam.The rabbi's cat and its model (from the Facebook page):When the cat once again loses his voice, his owner, in the midst of a crisis of faith, thinks God won't speak to him and now his cat doesn't want to speak to him either. He of course assumes the cat is not speaking on purpose.This is a serious yet very funny book. The author maintains a light touch throughout. It's not that, when he needles, his needles aren't sharp. They are very sharp indeed, but so artfully applied that the effect is less like piercing than like acupuncture. It is all in the family, all done with absolute honesty but with a substrata of understanding and compassion. The truth will out, and better out than in, should be his motto.I was excited to find this article before reading the book. It's helpful as to the author's background and oeuvre, but didn't quite get to the spirit I felt behind the words and narrative, barbed though it may be.The rabbi's nephew explains why his singing act on the streets of Paris is in the guise of an Arab:Because to play a Jew you have to have a Polish accent, and I don't know how to do it. Playing a North African Jew just doesn't work; people aren't interested; it's too complicated for them.... The public, Uncle, doesn't like things that are complicated.As they approach the nephew's apartment, the rabbi asks if there's any more bad news. The nephew replies that, no, he's not a pimp, and his girlfriend isn't a whore.She is Catholic though.You...you...and is it serious, you and this young woman?Oh, listen, Uncle, with all due respect, shut up.... No, I'm sorry. Let me put it this way, man to man: I'm madly in love with her, but since she's a singer, she's banging half of Paris in addition to me. So when she doesn't come home at night, I get drunk, and if it goes on much longer I'll end up blowing my brains out.(My master lets out a sigh of relief.) So there hasn't really been any talk of marriage yet, right?You are missing the demonic sarcastic smirk on the nephew's face when he made his little speech in this graphic novel.The rabbi is a teddy bear; his daughter slant-eyed and enticing, the cat is alternately feline and wolfish. Words may be the sine qua non, but here the pictures frame them.This is my first graphic novel, the first one I've ever finished, anyway. I read part of Will Eisner's The Plot; it was very instructive but I bogged down. I have the graphic novel for Stephen King's Dark Tower series; I read the books but not the graphic round-up. And I haven't finished Chast's Can't we talk of something more pleasant? The Rabbi's Cat may be better, but a key point is I committed to reading it for a book club. It's not only wanting to talk about it; it's that I said I would.I used to read comic books. I left a stack of Archie and Betty and Veronica comics in my childhood closet, and my mother threw them out. They would probably have been worth thousands. :) There were some others, too, I think. In my young adulthood I had a couple of what I think were early R. Crumbs. One in particular was instructive. Later I hid them from my children and (I at least) never saw them again. I read cartoons and comic strips now, but I expect them to be short. I have cartoon collections but really haven't read them straight through. It was hard reading words and pictures together. I kept going back to look at the pictures. Then I got going and realized I was just reading. But I kept feeling as though I were forgetting. I probably forget most of what I read, too, but there's less to remind me of the process. At any rate, mission accomplished.The translation is sharp.The book is a movie, too.I used to say Roz Chast is my favorite cartoonist, but now I'll have to say she's my favorite New Yorker cartoonist. She does get mean-spirited on occasion!Given that the author is such a success in France, across-the-board depictions of France as an antisemitic society can't be the whole picture.What I think is so special about Sfar is that he speaks. This book, after all, is about human beings who are Jews. I have heard about the period before WWI and the time between the wars that Jews post-emancipation achieved the ability to contribute to the societies in which they lived, but in spite of being Jews, not as Jews. In modern times such things are no longer supposed to be an issue, but I dare say they still are.So, good for Sfar.Sfar, so good.
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  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    Ignore the Disney-esque cover. This is an adult-oriented graphic novel that tells the story of a rabbi and his daughter in Algeria and -- for the last third of the novel, in Paris -- in 1930. The illustrations are strong. The cat is merely a device for telling the rabbi's story - a story very much of a particular place and culture. It's a 4-star read because it's not one I anticipate thinking about in a few months, e.g., it's not that deep, but I am glad I read it, and I loved the picture it pai Ignore the Disney-esque cover. This is an adult-oriented graphic novel that tells the story of a rabbi and his daughter in Algeria and -- for the last third of the novel, in Paris -- in 1930. The illustrations are strong. The cat is merely a device for telling the rabbi's story - a story very much of a particular place and culture. It's a 4-star read because it's not one I anticipate thinking about in a few months, e.g., it's not that deep, but I am glad I read it, and I loved the picture it painted of both Algeria and of Paris.
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  • أحمد
    January 1, 1970
    One of the most beautiful comics I've ever read! And one of the smartest books I've encountered.I was really sad when I finished it. And I really hope I could find the second volume in English.
  • Bill Kerwin
    January 1, 1970
    A comic book narrative brings a special delight when the story’s teller’s mood and the graphic artist’s method perfectly combine—a condition perhaps most easily achieved when the teller and the artist are one. So it is with The Rabbi’s Cat, the creation of writer and illustrator Joann Sfar.Sfar is a Frenchman, born in Nice, the son of an Sephardic Jewish father from Algeria and an Ashkenazi Jewish mother with a family from Ukraine. The setting of The Rabbi’s Cat is an Algerian city in the 1930’s A comic book narrative brings a special delight when the story’s teller’s mood and the graphic artist’s method perfectly combine—a condition perhaps most easily achieved when the teller and the artist are one. So it is with The Rabbi’s Cat, the creation of writer and illustrator Joann Sfar.Sfar is a Frenchman, born in Nice, the son of an Sephardic Jewish father from Algeria and an Ashkenazi Jewish mother with a family from Ukraine. The setting of The Rabbi’s Cat is an Algerian city in the 1930’s, when Jews and Arabs (sort of) got along. The customs and dress here are Sephardic, but I think I detect more than a touch of Ashkenazi humor in the dialogue (“Western thought,” say the eponymous Rabbi, “works by thesis, antithesis, synthesis, while Judaism goes thesis, antithesis, antithesis, antithesis . . . ) But then again, who I am to judge? I know nothing of Sephardic humor.I do, however, know a good-looking comic when I see one, and the lush interiors and bright dresses of the women are beautiful, and the Rabbi’s daughter Zlabya, and the Rabbi, and the Rabbi’s cat are—each in their own way—very cute.The plot is set into motion by a Garden-of-Eden sort of crime: the Rabbi’s cat eats the Rabbi’s parrot, and by doing so he gains the gift of speech (and first uses his gift to lie: he denies that he ate the parrot). The Rabbi realizes that he has a Talmudic dilemma on his hands. Is a cat who speaks the same as a human? Can a speaking cat be considered a Jew? And, if so, should a Jewish cat be bar mitzvahed? Neither the cat nor the rabbi are sure about all this. Much theological speculation ensues.The Rabbi’s Cat consists of three originally separate comic adventures: 1) The Bar Mitvah (plot outlined above), 2) Malka of the Lions (the Rabbi’s fierce cousin Malka—and his lion--come to visit, the rabbi takes a French exam to gain government status, and a cute young rabbi comes to town) 3) Exodus (Zlabya and the young rabbi are wed, and they go on a honeymoon--with the Rabbi and the cat--to visit the young man’s family in Paris).Altogether, this is a sweet and charming book. The cat—like all cats—can often be a pain, but he does love his mistress Zlabya!
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  • Warwick
    January 1, 1970
    ‘The children are all very loving. They succeed in everything they do, they bring me great satisfaction.’‘Baruch HaShem!’‘Bless you.’Ah, I love me a classic Jewish gag like that. Le Chat du Rabbin is a clever and very charming BD about Algiers's Jewish community in the 1930s, narrated by the titular feline, who early on in the book eats a parrot and gains the ability to talk. He immediately demands a bar-mitzvah – but as you'd perhaps expect from a cat, he turns out to be a skeptic at heart:So w ‘The children are all very loving. They succeed in everything they do, they bring me great satisfaction.’‘Baruch HaShem!’‘Bless you.’Ah, I love me a classic Jewish gag like that. Le Chat du Rabbin is a clever and very charming BD about Algiers's Jewish community in the 1930s, narrated by the titular feline, who early on in the book eats a parrot and gains the ability to talk. He immediately demands a bar-mitzvah – but as you'd perhaps expect from a cat, he turns out to be a skeptic at heart:So we start at the beginning, and my master teaches me that the world was created by God five thousand seven hundred years ago or so.I ask him if he's making fun of me. He says no, it's the truth.I tell him that's ridiculous, and that with carbon-14 it can be scientifically proven that the world has existed for billions of years.Obviously quoting the words without the artwork is a bit pointless, because half of the fun here is in the characterisation: the adorable, dumpy rabbi, his beautiful daughter Zlabya, not to mention the cat himself (who appears to be a sphynx breed? I don't really know about cats). The lettering is handwritten script and the frames are colourful, cosy, lamplit and never less than aesthetically appealing.The author (a guy, in case the name confused you) is one of the rising stars of French comics – precociously talented, he directed the excellent film adaptation of his own Gainsbourg graphic biography back in 2010.For the artwork of Le Chat du Rabbin, he's said he drew inspiration from a long tradition of Algerian art. Myself, I couldn't help noticing a distinct resemblance between Zlabya and Henri Matisse's Femme algérienne, which is hanging in the Pompidou Centre:I knew literally nothing about Algeria's Jewish community, so for me this whole thing was a window on a slice of life and history that seems to have received very little attention.The characters are so appealing and so charming that you hardly notice you are being taken on a crash-course through religious exposition, intercommunal relations, the meaning of life, dealing with death…it is all handled very deftly but there's considerable depth under the surface.In summary: better than Garfield.
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  • Helly
    January 1, 1970
    Book 2 of 197 Books from 197 Countries, this graphic novel was so different from anything I have read so far. Set in Algeria, it takes a reader along through the illustrations in a strange culture and asks all the right questions through the devilish and intellectual cat. You need to grab this!
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  • Ivonne Rovira
    January 1, 1970
    In this delightful and uproariously funny parable set in Algeria in the 1930s, the rabbi’s cat, a conniving, profane cat who appears to be a blue Abyssinian, devours a garrulous parrot, thereby acquiring the bird’s power of speech. The clever but prevaricating cat immediately launches into a campaign to get himself a Bar Mitzvah — despite the opposition of both the rabbi and the rabbi’s rabbi. Eventually, the rabbi relents due to the intervention of the rabbi’s beautiful daughter, Zlabya — to wh In this delightful and uproariously funny parable set in Algeria in the 1930s, the rabbi’s cat, a conniving, profane cat who appears to be a blue Abyssinian, devours a garrulous parrot, thereby acquiring the bird’s power of speech. The clever but prevaricating cat immediately launches into a campaign to get himself a Bar Mitzvah — despite the opposition of both the rabbi and the rabbi’s rabbi. Eventually, the rabbi relents due to the intervention of the rabbi’s beautiful daughter, Zlabya — to whom both cat and rabbi are completely devoted. Thus, begins the instruction of the cat in the ways of the Torah, although the cat would much prefer to begin with the Kabbalah. The atheistic cat and the devout rabbi debate the most important questions of their time — and ours: science versus religion, why evil occurs, the impenetrable nature of God, how best to live a more perfect life in an imperfect world. Unsurprisingly, the cat often getting the better part of the argument. Even so, both develop a closer bond and develop as — dare I use the term? — people. But it’s on the visit to Paris that the cat really shines. Zlabya meets and instantly falls in love with Jules Nahum, a Paris-born rabbi come to take over a nearby congregation. Zlabya and Jules soon marry, and — with father and cat in tow — the happy couple head to Paris for a visit to the in-laws. The rabbi cannot find a thing to like in the City of Lights, criticizing everything, from the weather to the prayer habits of the synagogue goers, until finally Jules has had more than enough. And that’s when the biggest adventure begins for man and beast. French artist-writer Joann Sfar won the prestigious Jury Prize at Angoulême for The Rabbi’s Cat, and it’s easy to see why. The dialogue is clever and, at times, laugh-out-loud funny, and the illustrations so closely evoke the Algeria and Paris of a bygone day that you can nearly smell the berbouche d’Alger and the garlicky escargot. At 142 pages, you can finish this slim volume at a sitting — and, trust me, you won’t be able to stop yourself from reading cover to cover all at once!Be sure to take a look in the back at the dust jacket to catch a glimpse at the inspiration for the cat on Sfar’s chest.
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  • Scot
    January 1, 1970
    This is an American compliation and translation of three related French graphic novel tales about the life of a Sephardic Algerian rabbi's cat in colonial Algeria round about the 1930s. The first of the three stories was my favorite, as the cat gains the power of speech after devouring a pet parrot and proceeds to argue theology and philosophy, requesting a Bar Mitzvah while also questioning the existence of God. The second story is an adaption of a classic French fable by Fontaine and includes This is an American compliation and translation of three related French graphic novel tales about the life of a Sephardic Algerian rabbi's cat in colonial Algeria round about the 1930s. The first of the three stories was my favorite, as the cat gains the power of speech after devouring a pet parrot and proceeds to argue theology and philosophy, requesting a Bar Mitzvah while also questioning the existence of God. The second story is an adaption of a classic French fable by Fontaine and includes a romance for the cat's mistress, the rabbi's daughter, as well as a visit from a lion and a trip to a gravesite with a Sufi mystic. In the third and final story, the rabbi and the cat join the daughter and her rich husband on a honeymoon trip to Paris. The cat is a wonderful character, the artwork welcomes one in like a cozy fire on a winter's night. I know that's probably a bad simile given a North African setting, but the artwork makes me feel welcome, and as an Outsider I can learn fascinating things about the life, beliefs, and practices of the North African Jews, both in colonial Africa and in 1930s Paris, in a meaningful yet playful way by following the cat as he moves with feline grace and intent from panel to panel.
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  • Caroline
    January 1, 1970
    A widowed rabbi, his cat and his daughter live in Algeria spin a story and lesson in Judaism very cleverly crafted in this graphic novel. Through the cat, who having eaten the family parrot, is imparted a miraculous ability to speak, questions and challenges to the Jewish faith are presented to the rabbi and the rabbi's rabbi. First the cat lies about eating the parrot, and then he insists on learning the Kabbalah and wants a Bar Mitzvah. The rabbi's daughter gets married to a French rabbi and t A widowed rabbi, his cat and his daughter live in Algeria spin a story and lesson in Judaism very cleverly crafted in this graphic novel. Through the cat, who having eaten the family parrot, is imparted a miraculous ability to speak, questions and challenges to the Jewish faith are presented to the rabbi and the rabbi's rabbi. First the cat lies about eating the parrot, and then he insists on learning the Kabbalah and wants a Bar Mitzvah. The rabbi's daughter gets married to a French rabbi and they honeymoon in Paris to meet with the in-laws. The widowed rabbi and the cat accompany them and the rabbi's faith is tested along the way, as well as his tolerance for those who don't practice the faith as he is believes it should be practiced. You don't have to be Jewish to appreciate this graphic novel. It's funny, sad and is a wonderful little theological study.
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  • Laini
    January 1, 1970
    This is the third or fourth Sfar book I've read and I loved every panel and every word of it -- LOVED it. He really uses his quirky sense of humor to very human effect here, whereas in Vampire in Love or The Professor's Daughter things were a bit more zany -- fun, but harder to love. The story of an Algerian rabbi, his lovely daughter, and their witty, loving, maniacal, scheming cat (as narrated by the cat) is so winning, I can't even explain it. You just have to read it. :-)
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  • Shira Glassman
    January 1, 1970
    Using the premise of "What if my cat could observe humanity with an intelligent, humanlike brain? What, then, would he think of Judaism, belief, Jewish law and practice, the interaction of Jews and Arabs, of men and women, and people in general?", the author shows us several events from the life of a family of Sephardic Jews in historical French Northern Africa. It's half story, half philosophy -- which is a very Jewish way to tell a story -- and sometimes the point is to show both sides of an a Using the premise of "What if my cat could observe humanity with an intelligent, humanlike brain? What, then, would he think of Judaism, belief, Jewish law and practice, the interaction of Jews and Arabs, of men and women, and people in general?", the author shows us several events from the life of a family of Sephardic Jews in historical French Northern Africa. It's half story, half philosophy -- which is a very Jewish way to tell a story -- and sometimes the point is to show both sides of an argument by depicting a disagreement between the cat and the rabbi, or between the cat and a donkey.I think my favorite part was when the rabbi is going on a pilgrimage and runs into an Arab on the way, and the two of them get along great and become besties over very thinky conversation, while meanwhile the title character and the Arab's donkey get in an argument. There's another great scene where the cat is bullshitting a French dog that his master is "the bishop of Jerusalem" and that Yom Kippur is a Catholic holiday for celebrating Jesus's bar mitzvah.Warning for people who see "oh, a comic book!" and think kids: get your kids the Rabbi Harvey and Mirka graphic novels instead unless they're mature enough to handle casual discussion of sex work (the cat catches someone sneaking into a brothel) and suicidal ideation (a minor character.)
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  • Norman
    January 1, 1970
    Joann Sfar's writing is so human it is absolutely mesmerizing. Every character is successfully fleshed out and everyone is frolicking and cavorting with each other on the pages. Sfar builds a world where individuals are solitary by means of their relationships, so we learn how, even within a family, the idea of unity is more complex than certain. Our main character, the rabbi, master of our cat narrator, is a pious, and at times childish, buffoon. We learn to love him and and pity him and relate Joann Sfar's writing is so human it is absolutely mesmerizing. Every character is successfully fleshed out and everyone is frolicking and cavorting with each other on the pages. Sfar builds a world where individuals are solitary by means of their relationships, so we learn how, even within a family, the idea of unity is more complex than certain. Our main character, the rabbi, master of our cat narrator, is a pious, and at times childish, buffoon. We learn to love him and and pity him and relate to his ridiculousness, especially near the end as he learns of a grander world than he has come to know. His cat views his master through our lens, and sometimes he can talk, and mostly he cannot. A very interesting narrative concept as we're taken into the conversation and then abruptly taken away to be bystanders. I love all the religious anecdotes and facts. I love the breaking of Jewish laws, the lies, the argumentative energy. All of it. Even the musician nephew's hinted depression about his career and women (and the pseudo-joking suicide mentions) were thrilling and relatable. I highly recommend this read.
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  • Ksenia (vaenn)
    January 1, 1970
    Давно чула про "Кота рабина", і нарешті вирішила підступитися. Це було дивно, весело і дуже нішово. Дізналася нове про життя магрибських євреїв, усвідомила, що розумію більше жартів, ніж очікувала, передбачувано зітхала на моментах, коли деякі з цих жартів пояснювали на п'яти сторінках. "Кіт" - шикарний графічний роман, але в нього є два недоліки і то суттєві. Перше - антураж та приколи всуху переграють сюжети, і ті сюжети більше схожі на нитку, на яку низають геги, ніж на щось самодостатньо цік Давно чула про "Кота рабина", і нарешті вирішила підступитися. Це було дивно, весело і дуже нішово. Дізналася нове про життя магрибських євреїв, усвідомила, що розумію більше жартів, ніж очікувала, передбачувано зітхала на моментах, коли деякі з цих жартів пояснювали на п'яти сторінках. "Кіт" - шикарний графічний роман, але в нього є два недоліки і то суттєві. Перше - антураж та приколи всуху переграють сюжети, і ті сюжети більше схожі на нитку, на яку низають геги, ніж на щось самодостатньо цікаве. Друге - з таким матеріалом складно дотриматися балансу між текстом (в широкому сенсі цього слова) для втаємничених своїх та абсолютно чужих. Тому тут є сюжетно невиправдані моменти, де щось або розжовується до напіврідкого стану, або полірується до блиску - хоча можна було б обійтися і без цього.А, ну і про сюжетики (в перший том входить три випуски):* кіт рабина зжер папугу, навчився розмовляти і вирішив, що йому треба влаштувати бар-міцву;* рабин, господар кота, переймається через те, що французька влада (діло у нас відбувається в Алжирі 1930-х) збирається його замінити на когось молодшого та більш франкофонного;* рабин та кіт, разом з іншими героями, навідують Париж та випадково поринають в пригоди (зухвало-показову вечерю з категорично некошерними наїдками включено у вартість сюжету).
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    I don't even know how to describe this book, but I loved it. Jewish mysticism, Algiers in the 1930's, a sometimes-talking cat - it's a weird mash-up but it works beautifully. Gorgeous drawings and no cliches to be found.
  • Nate
    January 1, 1970
    A peculiar, instantly engrossing graphic novel by Joann Sfar, an author who is new to me and who I was surprised to find when I got to the "about the author" page, is a man, despite having what seems to be a woman's name. I was very impressed by the author's knowledge of Jewish ritual and custom, but even more impressed by the unobtrusive way that he works it into the story. The story is both sad and funny in the best way.One thing I find interesting about the structure of the story is the way o A peculiar, instantly engrossing graphic novel by Joann Sfar, an author who is new to me and who I was surprised to find when I got to the "about the author" page, is a man, despite having what seems to be a woman's name. I was very impressed by the author's knowledge of Jewish ritual and custom, but even more impressed by the unobtrusive way that he works it into the story. The story is both sad and funny in the best way.One thing I find interesting about the structure of the story is the way one character seems central to the tale at the start, but by the end you realize that another character has taken over this role. In this sense, and in this sense only, it reminds me of Alex Robinson's "Box Office Poison," another graphic novel. I don't know why this would be, but this practice of switching main characters midstream seems to me to be more common, or at least more noticeable in graphic novels than in conventional fiction. I've seen it done plenty of times in non-graphic fiction too, but it somehow seems clunkier in this form.I don't want to give away too much of the story, but it's about a Rabbi, a cat, and the rabbi's daughter. It takes place mostly in Algeria in the 1930's. The book is narrated by the cat who is both philosophical and practical, and has a way with words. He describes the rabbi's daughter Zlabya as having a name that "sounds like a honey-drenched pastry."All in all, a good quick read, and nicely drawn too.
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  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    The Rabbi's cat gains the power to talk (by ingestion of parrot) and is no longer allowed to spend time with the Rabbi's daughter, whom he loves, because he is a bad influence. He asks to be bar mitzvahed so that he can be with her, and a delightful discussion ensues.I loved the first story in this book. In fact, I might have to go back and steal it from John's so I can read it again whenever I want. The two stories that followed were great as well, but the first story made me fall in love with The Rabbi's cat gains the power to talk (by ingestion of parrot) and is no longer allowed to spend time with the Rabbi's daughter, whom he loves, because he is a bad influence. He asks to be bar mitzvahed so that he can be with her, and a delightful discussion ensues.I loved the first story in this book. In fact, I might have to go back and steal it from John's so I can read it again whenever I want. The two stories that followed were great as well, but the first story made me fall in love with this clever, self-interested, but ultimately loving, cat. I was truly delighted and laughed out loud.
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  • Shruthi Mudireddy
    January 1, 1970
    A delicious book with a talking cat that argues philosophically with his master, an adorable old rabbi and his beautiful daughter. This book couldn't have gone wrong. Whilst reading it, I felt like I was walking through medieval Algeria with all its foibles and mannerisms. The book is not the least bit preachy, but you end up thinking deeply about religion and culture. Now that is some good writing and not to mention the evocative artwork. It feels a bit like the Aladdin set-up when you look at A delicious book with a talking cat that argues philosophically with his master, an adorable old rabbi and his beautiful daughter. This book couldn't have gone wrong. Whilst reading it, I felt like I was walking through medieval Algeria with all its foibles and mannerisms. The book is not the least bit preachy, but you end up thinking deeply about religion and culture. Now that is some good writing and not to mention the evocative artwork. It feels a bit like the Aladdin set-up when you look at the art, but what is art if not inspiration? Greatly recommend this sassy and thought provoking little graphic novel!
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  • Mark
    January 1, 1970
    Set in 1920's Algeria and France, The Rabbi's Cat is an homage to author Joann Sfar family's history. The tale of how a young married couple blends Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewish heritages makes for a very engaging graphic novel. Bonus points for the discussion of Maimonides The Guide for the Perplexed.
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  • Prakriti Singh
    January 1, 1970
    The beautiful and breezy style of the author has completely floored me, He brings a lot of cultural aspects of Algerian jews to light which makes it a page turner, the character of the cat is hilarious and profound at the same time. His message is put across so light heartedly but sticks with you.
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  • Nikki Morse
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting story, gorgeous drawings - both totally undermined by misogyny and empty, objectified female characters.
  • Celestine
    January 1, 1970
    3.5-4. Luin tämän oikeastaan vain siksi, että saisin sarjakuvaromaani-kohdan täyteen Helmetin lukuhaasteesta. Ensimmäinen osa oli paras, ja hämmennyinkin, kun katti ei puhunutkaan enää myöhemmin. Olin olettanut takakannen perusteella toisin. Sfarin piirrostyylistä tykkäsin kyllä tosi paljon, ja luen hyvin todennäköisesti myös toisen albumin, kun tämä tuntui jäävän vähän kesken.
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  • Maggie Gordon
    January 1, 1970
    Oh this is a delight! The Rabbi's Cat is about a cat who lives with a Rabbi and his daughter in Northern Africa (Algeria). One day, the cat gains the ability to speak (totally not after eating a parrot of course), and then he wants to convert to Judaism so the rabbi will let him spend time with the daughter. What follows are some interesting conversations about religion and faith as understood through the delightfully snarky eyes of a cat. It's a thought-provoking tome, plus it stars a cat so it Oh this is a delight! The Rabbi's Cat is about a cat who lives with a Rabbi and his daughter in Northern Africa (Algeria). One day, the cat gains the ability to speak (totally not after eating a parrot of course), and then he wants to convert to Judaism so the rabbi will let him spend time with the daughter. What follows are some interesting conversations about religion and faith as understood through the delightfully snarky eyes of a cat. It's a thought-provoking tome, plus it stars a cat so it gets bonus points :)
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  • T. Frohock
    January 1, 1970
    Equal parts charming, delightful, and philosophical, this was the light read I needed right now.
  • Sheryl
    January 1, 1970
    This is a wacky, fun book. Thought it would be fun to learn about Judaism through a Rabbi's cat, but this is one ornery cat! Don't think I learned much, but I did enjoy the book.
  • J.
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 stars; i really can't get into joann sfar
  • Brenna
    January 1, 1970
    In one sense, The Rabbi's Cat seems to represent a basic interpretation of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. And in others, it light-heartedly recreates the Jewish Algeria of the 1930s. The characters of The Rabbi, The Rabbi's Daughter, and The Rabbi's Cat display multi-faceted prisms of their own personalities - and the entire story is narrated through the eyes of a seven-year-old cat.In its original French format, The Rabbi's Cat is a series of three (out of five) comic books detailing the In one sense, The Rabbi's Cat seems to represent a basic interpretation of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. And in others, it light-heartedly recreates the Jewish Algeria of the 1930s. The characters of The Rabbi, The Rabbi's Daughter, and The Rabbi's Cat display multi-faceted prisms of their own personalities - and the entire story is narrated through the eyes of a seven-year-old cat.In its original French format, The Rabbi's Cat is a series of three (out of five) comic books detailing the growth and experiences of the small rabbinical family. Throughout the story, the lives of these characters change from time to time, although this is by far no biographical story. Beneath the surface ("The public," says the Rabbi's musical nephew during a later sequence in the book, "doesn't like things that are complicated.") lies a much deeper investigation of systematic beliefs, rituals, and the essence of self in a worldly environment.(Fortunately, this "worldly environment" comes in the form of a peaceable Algeria, where the Rabbi himself has but a curtain in place of a front door!)Take, for example, The Rabbi's Cat: He, himself, thinks more of himself than any of the other locals presented within the story. He eats the family's pet parrot, thus obtaining the ability to speak. Even after this selfish manoeuvrings, the cat commences to lie about his deed: "I say that with speech, you can say what you want, even things that aren't true, that it's an amazing power..." He only tells the truth, according to the Rabbi, when it's hurtful to others.Yet it does not go on like this indefinitely. The cat's newly-bestowed power of speech allows him to question those around him - rather harshly, at first - and thus to grow in accordance with (and, indeed, opposition to) his own arguments and expanded viewpoints. There is no one single nor series of epiphenomena within, but a lengthy study of life, humanity, faith, loyalty, and tradition which brings about the maturation within the Cat.The book ends, a little abruptly perhaps, but bypassing the trite "molded ending" one might expect from the average graphic novel. The story continues in The Rabbi's Cat 2, although the story line contained in this book is self-sufficient - and it creates a familiarity within the reader which entices him or her to care about the characters, to know which things life introduces to them, and how they subsequently envelop themselves therein.The Rabbi's Cat does not preach - it banters, it questions, and it entertains. The same could have been achieved through any number of other approaches, though arguably with not the same level of enthrallment.
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  • Soobie's scared
    January 1, 1970
    Direi che son 2,5 stelline.Questa è un'antologia che raccoglie i primi tre volumi della serie. La prima parte, quella in cui il gatto effettivamente parla, è stata la più pesante da leggere. Tanta filosofia e tanto ebraismo. E lo stile di narrazione contribuisce alla noia: infatti, tutto è raccontata dal gatto che riporta le parole degli altri protagonisti. Nella prima parte, il gatto - dopo aver mangiato un pappagallino - acquista la capacità di parlare. E comincia a disquisire di religione con Direi che son 2,5 stelline.Questa è un'antologia che raccoglie i primi tre volumi della serie. La prima parte, quella in cui il gatto effettivamente parla, è stata la più pesante da leggere. Tanta filosofia e tanto ebraismo. E lo stile di narrazione contribuisce alla noia: infatti, tutto è raccontata dal gatto che riporta le parole degli altri protagonisti. Nella prima parte, il gatto - dopo aver mangiato un pappagallino - acquista la capacità di parlare. E comincia a disquisire di religione con il rabbino, che è il padre della sua padrona. Il rabbino non vuole che l'animale parli alla figlia, mentre il gatto vorrebbe avere il suo Bar-Mitzvah. Allora il rabbino lo porta dal suo superiore che gli nega la cerimonia perché è solo un gatto. Poi, così come l'ha acquistato, il gatto perde il dono della parola. Non ho ben capito perché.Nella seconda parte, il rabbino viene invitato a diventare rabbino in Francia ma ha bisogno di fare un test di ortografia per avere il posto. E lui, povero, è proprio negato a scrivere in francese mentre il gatto ci riesce alla perfezione. Le cose peggiorano quando nella loro città arriva un nuovo rabbino, molto giovane, che ruba il cuore della figlia.Nella terza parte, il rabbino va a Parigi - sempre insieme al gatto - dove si scontra con un mondo diverso dal suo. Gli ebrei che conosce sono diversi rispetto a quelli che è abituato a frequentare. Non si trova bene nella sinagoga, rivede un parente che ormai non segue più tutti i precetti dell'ebraismo e il povero rabbino va in crisi di vocazione. Per fortuna c'è il gatto.Non so, forse un ebreo potrebbe cogliere molti riferimenti che a me sono sfuggiti perché non ho familiarità con quella cultura. Il gatto - così com'è disegnato - è proprio brutto. Perfino nei suoi sogni, dove il rabbino diventa gatto, questo è decisamente più "gattesco" di lui. Più che un gatto sembra una sgorbietto dal colore indefinito. C'è una scena in cui il rabbino incontra un arabo con un asino e i due discutono insieme. Ed è stata una bella scena, a dimostrare - forse - che il dialogo è possibile. In conclusione, non continuerò la serie a meno di non trovarla in biblio. La parte religiosa e filosofica a volte prende il sopravvento a discapito di una narrazione un po' più di azione. E tutte le didascalie del gatto - dopo un po' - mi hanno stancato.
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  • Melanie Page
    January 1, 1970
    Last month, I reviewed Sfar’s collection of four stories in one graphic novel called Vampire Loves . I was amused by the simplicity of the storytelling, a delightful feature of European books I don’t often see in American graphic novels. The Rabbi’s Cat was much, much better, and I’m sad to say that my copy is from the library. The story is set in Algeria in the 1930s and follows a cat that lives with his owners, a rabbi (his Master) and the rabbi’s daughter (his Mistress).While I loved the sto Last month, I reviewed Sfar’s collection of four stories in one graphic novel called Vampire Loves . I was amused by the simplicity of the storytelling, a delightful feature of European books I don’t often see in American graphic novels. The Rabbi’s Cat was much, much better, and I’m sad to say that my copy is from the library. The story is set in Algeria in the 1930s and follows a cat that lives with his owners, a rabbi (his Master) and the rabbi’s daughter (his Mistress).While I loved the story of Ferdinand the vampire, there wasn’t much continuity between the four separate stories. The Rabbi’s Cat is one story, which allowed me to see the characters grow. The rabbi’s cat, which has no name other than “cat,” thinks and learned to read alongside his Mistress. However, when he eats the annoying pet parrot, he gains the ability to speak. The cat is a liar, but tells the truth when it hurts others. For example, his Master says the cat must be a Jew, so they consult the rabbi’s rabbi to see if the cat can have a bar-mitzvah. The cat does not like the rabbi’s rabbi and says mean things about him to his Master:“So you have no master, but you don’t want to admit that, do you, because you don’t want to end up old and alone and without anyone to turn to when you don’t understand anything. So you’re going to do all you can to make the old man look good. And the more foolishness he talks, the more you’ll call him ‘my master, my master, my master,’ as if to convince yourself.”This is a philosophical sort of graphic novel that gets readers asking questions about religion. The questions the cat asks stumps religious men: “I ask [the rabbi’s rabbi] to show me a picture of God. He says that God is a word.” Sfar draws the old man with a perplexed look, finger to chin in thought.I include a number of drawings so that you can see examples from the book, but they are hard to add on Goodreads, so please go read the full review, now up at TNBBC!
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