Nineteen by Ancco. Drawn & Quarterly, 2020. 9781770464100
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Genre: Realistic fiction
What did you like about the book? This black and white graphic novel is a collection of stories about what it’s like to be nineteen in 1990’s South Korea. Some are autobiographical, some are fictional, one is from the point of view of a dog, and one from the point of view of a suicidal kid who’s gay and has HIV. There is angst, drama, drinking to the point of blacking out, and domestic violence. But luckily there are also dogs and flowers! For American readers, there are many points to identify with, as well as a view into the way families function in South Korea. The art is quirky and arresting, with details and textures created through etching-like cross-hatching, in a blend of caricature and realism. The tone is dark, and the drinking is a bit disturbing, but it feels in keeping with the extremes of emotion at this time of life.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
To whom would you recommend this book? For ages 18+, fans of the author, and those who like gritty realistic graphic fiction.
Who should buy this book? Adult graphic novel collections, especially where there is a call for Korean translations.
Where would you shelve it ? Graphic novel fiction
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? If you’re a graphic novel reader, then yes.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: October 18, 2020