Last month I reviewed Joann Sfar's The Rabbi's Cat and liked it so much I immediately went out and bought The Rabbi's Cat 2. The second cat book contains two stories.
In the first tale, the often sarcastic, usually cocky talking cat spends time with the rabbi's older cousin Malka, whom we met in the first book. Malka and his lion are nomads, always looking for a new audience for their con game. Times, however, are changing for Jews in the 1930s, even in North Africa, and the aging pair are not always greeted by friendly faces.
In the second story, the rabbi has returned home, where all is not peaceful for his daughter and her new husband. When a young Jewish painter ends up in Algiers after escaping Communist Russia, he tells them the legend of an African Jerusalem, where he hopes to find safety from the ever-growing feelings of anti-Semitism. The rabbi and the cat decide to help the painter find the fabled city, and so starts their exciting cross-continent adventure.
In The Rabbi's Cat 2, the cat sees what happens when people of different cultures, languages, and religions come in contact. Sometimes it's an enriching experience, but other times the cat observes only trouble. Through humor and art, Sfar explores a changing Africa, the passing of a generation and its traditions, and the rabbi and his students' struggle to remain true to their beliefs.
In the scan at the right, the rabbi (with the beard), a Russian (not the painter), and a Catholic priest are sharing a meal and conversation. This scene takes place in Algiers before the rabbi goes on his trip. The bubble at the top of some panels is the cat speaking. (Click to see full size.)
Either of the Rabbi's cat books would make a great book club selection because of the broad range of topics Sfar incorporates in his stories.
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Published by Pantheon Books, 2008
Source: Bought (see review policy)
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