Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Color of Earth: A Celebration of Another Love

The Color of Earth
Kim Dong Hwa
2009
First Second

My experience with graphic novels is limited. And it seems each one I read is distinctly different in style and writing. This coming-of-age story by far is my favorite. Written by celebrated Korean artist, Hwa is a feminist and a man. I start with this because as someone who is very vocal about women telling their stories, this is a man telling it. Like another reader, while there were a few times I questioned if the voice rings true, I am undecided if it is more of a cultural difference that is affecting how I hear this mother and daughter convey their feelings. Most times, the voice seems consistent with the style of writing and I believe the style reflects a culture where in many ways women are restricted in how they communicate and behave.

This artwork is stunning. I took my time with this work in part simply so I could linger over the images. Not only are the images breathtaking but the construction of the volume itself is pure craftsmanship. Heavy paper and rich colors and a glossed cover compliment this classic story about first love, crossing the threshold of childhood and finding love again.

The writing is poetic, simple in construction but rich with metaphor, and there is a tenderness that can only really be appreciated with a deliberate, unhurried reading. The is best way to experience this work is to approach it the same way you share a bedtime story with a child: a few pages each night over a course of several nights.

Gaining an intimate view of another culture is always a treat but here, not only did I learn a great deal about pastoral Korea of a generation or so removed but here is a mother/daughter relationship that is close and nurturing. The estranged relationship between mothers and daughters is well documented but rarely do we see a mother and daughter celebrated in this way. It is a welcome departure.

By the end of this first volume, I felt sated with a fine story and hungry for the next installment. At Chasing Ray, Colleen is spotlighting works written by writers from or about southeast Asia. I thought I would have finished a work that qualifies but I didn't. Join me in finding my next read at Colleen's.

13 comments:

evelyn.n.alfred said...

I've been waiting for another good graphic novel to read, since I finished American Born Chinese.

Colleen said...

Just finished this and found it to be incredibly intimate as well. You really felt like you knew this mother and daughter by the end. I'm staring "Color of Water", the sequel, now. So psyched!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

You are really writing some great reviews these days! Love this review - want to look for the book!

Jessie Carty said...

thanks for this! i love graphic novels but it is really hard to find what to read next and certainly to find good reviews. definitely want to put this on my to buy list :)

saw american born chinese was mentioned earlier it was fantastic!

susan said...

Rhapsody,

Yes, I'm trying to walk the walk. I challenged readers to review POC so I had to step up my game. :-)

Thanks all for reading and commenting.

mayra lazara dole said...

your reviews come alive... i ask that you consider writing a book.
thanks for this one!

Color Online said...

mayra,

I'm too much a scatterbrain to write a book though do sometimes dream about it.

mayra lazara dole said...

girl, for being a "scatterbrain" you're sure plugged into the literary world and can make some powerful comments. i bet that if you sat and just wrote one page a day (365 pgs a year) your book will come alive before you know it. you've got so much to say and you express yourself with so much passion. just try it. i have a feeling about you...

evelyn.n.alfred said...

Go for it. Write that book. Can I be the first to review it? :-). Maybe we could have a contest, which scatterbrain can finish a book first. LOL!

susan said...

E,

You're cracking me up.

Mayra,
I'm flattered.:-)

Gavin said...

Loved your review. I am so glad you enjoyed this.

Beth Kephart said...

Fantastic review.

Ali said...

This looks like a great find!