We love all of our books but are especially happy for the creators of the Eisner-nominated books. You can vote until June 12 online. If you haven't read all of them, check 'em out individually or via our list!
Still no sure which to read? Heidi MacDonald, Cal Reid and company discuss the nominations on the Publishers Weekly podcast. Meanwhile, Chris Sims, Matt D. Wilson and more of War Rocket Ajax discuss the nominations, although I'm not sure how long the podcast will be up at this link.
Some of the nominations gather in our mail room. See you in JULY!
[The Umpteen Millionaire Club is our series which puts forth book club discussion questions for Fantagraphics titles. The Comics Journal interns Brooke Chin, Tom Graham and Toby Liebowitz put together this set of questions. As this is intended for those who have read the book and contains spoilers, questions can be found behind the jump. - Ed.]
Julio’s Day is a graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez that spans the hundred-year life of one man. It opens with his birth; it follows Julio and his family and friends in a small farming village as successive generations are born and die. Packed within the pages is a range of human experience: a soldier goes to war and is changed; evil in the family goes unaddressed; and there’s the blue worm. We follow Julio to the end, which is much as the beginning, or, to quote Samuel Beckett, "the same day, the same second."
"Come kick-off the 10th Anniversary of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival with us on the evening of Friday, May 10th! TCAF will welcome to the stage alt-comix legends Gilbert Hernandez and Jamie Hernandez, as they engage in a lively career-spanning conversation with The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon! Both artists will also sign autographs and meet with fans at the event. Selections from their complete comics library will be available for sale at the event.
Plus! A look back at ten years of TCAF with some very special guests."
Presented by Toronto Reference Library and The Beguiling Books & Art, with support from Drawn & Quarterly Books and us, Fantagraphics Books. On Saturday and Sunday be sure to get your books signed by the Hernandez Brothers at our TCAF table!
"…his paramount creation was the celebrated if obscure newspaper strip Barnaby, which, from its distinct visual look (minimalist, Thurberesque drawings; typeset word balloons) to its wry, understated humor, was unlike anything else ever to hit the comics page…There have been sporadic reprintings, but this effort, the initial installment in a five-volume series, is the first to collect it in its entirety. Even Mr. O'Malley couldn't conjure up a more welcome endeavor." – Gordon Flagg
"Because day in it means a lifetime (like what we mean by saying, "in Grandma's day"), the title of this spare graphic novel denotes an entire century… For lengthy stretches of his story, he's unspeaking, in the background, nowhere around as we watch the more dramatic lives of friends and family flare in bizarre illness and death, in madness and violence, and in love, at home more than in the wars and wanderings they are called to. All along, he lives with his mother, the still center of a century-long family storm that Hernandez's mastery of comics somehow makes somberly beautiful." –Ray Olson
"This welcome reissue publishes the work to its originally intended large page size and restores the original watercolors…The gritty yet gaudy artwork by Romberger, a friend of Wojnarowicz's who worked closely with him on the project, convincingly conveys the seedy milieu of Wojnarowicz's younger years as well as his later rage and frustration as he awaits his death, with the expressionistic colors ratcheting up the nightmarish intensity. Two decades on, Times Square is cleaned up and the AIDS crisis in America is largely contained; but Wojnarowicz's defiant cri de coeur retains its harsh potency." – Gordon Flagg
The tantric release of Online Commentaries & Release:
• Review:The LA Times and Noel Murray interviews Gilbert Hernandez about Julio's Day, Marble Season (from D&Q), plus the future books Love and Rockets: New Stories #6 and Maria M. LA Times: Gilbert says " ‘Julio’s Day’ is very simple. I mean, there’s a lot of heavy stuff going on, but I wanted it to read like a very simple, direct story."
• Interview:comiXology interviews Gilbert Hernandez about his most recent comic Julio's Day on their podcast.
• Review: Tom Spurgeon looks at Gilbert Hernandez's latest work, Julio's Day, on the Comics Reporter. "I found Julio's Day moving at times, again for reasons I'm not really certain I can fully articulate. The idea that we may be known as much for the choices of those around us and things that happen in proximity to ourselves as much as if not more than by the choices we make is either the ultimate comfort or the first back-of-throat rumblings of an existential howl."
• Plug:Publishers Weekly lists Julio's Day as a pick of the week: "A marvelous and tightly scripted epic whose last page is a heart-stopper."
Review: Charles Hatfield of The Comics Journal flips through Julio's Dayby Gilbert Hernandez. "When it comes to Beto, the lightning keeps striking, and if it doesn’t strike exactly the same place twice, it does testify to the same divided genius…It is the great lost Beto comic, belatedly given new form and new life.
• Review:Grovel's Andy Shaw reads Julio's Dayby Gilbert Hernandez. "Just buy it now. This is Gilbert Hernandez at his finest, distilling a lifetime into a single volume of pleasure and pain.Julio’s Day is a literary classic, and another incredible piece of work from a true master of comics."
• Plug:Largehearted Boy plugs Julio's Day. "Gilbert compresses the history of the 20th century as well as the life of a man into a riveting, masterful story," writes Benn Ray.
• Review:The A.V. Club looks at The Adventures of Jodelle by Guy Peellaert. "The essays-which at 80 pages take up more of the book than Jodelle-are this volume's real selling point... Peellaert foregrounded the eroticism of advertising, and exposed how pulp imagery affects the public's understanding of everything from politics to gender. And he did it without resorting to polemics. The Adventures Of Jodelle book-both the comic strip and the supplemental material-is a delight both visually and intellectually," writes Noel Murray.
• Plug:Largehearted Boy plugs The Adventures of Jodelle by Guy Peellaert. "Think of Barbarella animated in that Yellow Submarine style and you get the idea of what Jodelle's adventures look like. This is comics as art."
• Plug: Angel House Press is celebrated National Poetry Month with a focus on visual poetry, inspired by latest collection of it The Last Vispo, edited by Nico Vassilakis and Crag Hill. Check here for a month of visual poetry.
• Review: Heroes Complex at the LA Times looks at 50 Girls 50 by Al Williamson. Noel Murray writes, "These pieces are classic EC: punchy, knowing and ironic in the best sense of the word, in that they force readers to examine their own expectations. The best stories in '50 Girls 50 have readers rooting for heels, or celebrating war, all while framing the situation in such a way that readers question their responses." In reference to the whole EC Comics Library line, Murray writes, "All of these books are essential purchases for comics fans, but for those on a budget who are looking to prioritize…These are the books that best show off how EC took genre stories seriously, striving to create comics that didn’t treat readers as naive or ignorant."
• Review:Fangoria reviews the next two EC books. Rick Trembles enjoys 'Tain't the Meat by Jack Davis. "Jack Davis’ dark comedic touch is all over this collection, diffusing the ghastly nature of the stories somewhat, an aspect to his work that was obviously lost on his opponents." Meanwhile with Al Willliamson's 50 Girls 50, Trembles writes "here we’re dazzled by romanticized sci-fi heroics and delicate line-work of the ilk of FLASH GORDON’S original artist Alex Raymond, Williamson’s main inspiration. Dinosaurs, spaceships, and outlandish otherworldly creatures populate the flora of faraway worlds, accompanied by buxom, exotically garbed beauties."
• Review: Nick Gazin sets his VICE sights on 'Tain't the Meat by Jack Davis. "Even though he wasn't a perfectionist, Jack Davis's laziness is better than most people's best work. When Davis does invest himself in a drawing it's just a mind bender. This is a must have for anyone who loves horror, EC, Jack Davis, any of that stuff."
• Review: Comics Bulletin looks at 3 New Stories from Dash Shaw. "This is a short, floppy-sized comic, but it's incredibly rich in complexity and depth. Shaw delivers an amazing collection of stories here."
• Interview:DigBoston and Clay Fernald talk to Dash Shaw about 3 New Stories, New School, Bottomless Belly Button and more. Shaw says, "Words and pictures are very different. They don't sit comfortably next to each other. Some cartoonists try to bring them closer together. Ware is like that. I like that space between things. I want the differences between things to be activated."
• Plug: Largehearted Boy hosts Atomic Books look at new comics included 3 New Stories. "Dash Shaw is a modern comics master. He experiments with everything from structure to narrative to color. If you're unfamiliar with his work, he's sort of like Gary Panter illustrating a Chris Ware story, or, in this case, 3 stories of dystopian societies," writes Benn Ray from Atomic Books.
• Review:Nerds of a Feather enjoys Tom Kaczynski's Beta Testing the Apocalypse. Beta Philippe Duhart states "The thin lines, sharp angles, and rigid geometry…brings a clarity and simplicity that expertly balances the abstractness of the themes at the heart of Beta Testing the Apocalypse…One doesn’t need to have read iek to grasp Beta Testing’s themes and criticisms. One only needs to have only gone apartment hunting."
• Interview:Comics Bulletin and Keith Silve interview James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook on 7 Miles A Second. Van Cook remembers, "David was a poet of the soul, there was always a tension between beauty and the vileness of what society did to anyone who was not of the mainstream. I once asked him what he did with the money he got from hustling when he was so young and he told me he would take a bus to the country and walk around. We thought it was so ironic that selling one's body and selling art had many of the same qualities. We laughed rather darkly, about how the body and art are commodified and priced so arbitrarily."
• Interview (video): Back in January, Carol Tyler spoke to University of Southern California Provost's Professor Henry Jenkins and students as part of the USC Visions and Voices series. Mike Lynch was good enough to blog about it as soon as USC put up on the internet. She speaks about personal life and drawing comics, including the You'll Never Know series.
• Plug:Manga Bookshelf lists its first quarter favorites of 2013 and include Moto Hagio's newest book. "The Heart of Thomas was my most eagerly anticipated manga of the year, and while its January release date set the bar perhaps unfairly high for the year to come, I can’t bring myself to be sad about that."
• Review:Comics Worth Reading pulls out the Castle Waiting Vol. 2: Definitive Edition by Linda Medley. Johanna Draper Carlson writes "…it’s engrossing and beautifully drawn. I was surprised, reading the whole thing at once, how much of what figures in the final chapters was mentioned very early on. It gave me new appreciation for Medley’s long-term storytelling."
• Review:Calgary Public Library's Teen Blog speaks out on Castle Waiting Vol. 1 and 2 by Linda Medley. Adrienne writes, "Castle Waiting is a great comic book that takes elements from fairytales such as 'Sleeping Beauty' and combines them with a good dose of humour and plots about bearded ladies, two-headed girls, pregnancy and hidden libraries..I highly recommend her"
• Review: Strange Journal reviews Castle Waiting. "I’ve really fallen for it, it’s what they’d call a triple threat in show business: It can sing, dance AND act…In the tradition of Jeff Smith’s Bone and the better parts of Dave Sim’s Cerebus, Medley has conjured an amazing and beautiful world and filled it with flawed, interesting folks eking out their existence in a castle on the edge of the world," states Adam Blodgett.
• Review: Delphine by Richard Sala is reviewed on Comics Bulletin. Jason Sacks "We're used to fairy tales telling the story of a journey by a girl from innocence to the real world. Delphine inverts the gender of those classic tales, but uses those familiar tropes to tell a familiar story. Richard Sala treads a world of metaphor and allusion, a world that feels as familiar as Grimm's Fairy Tales and as mysterious as our own heart."
• Review: Nick Gazin sets his VICE sights on Out of the Shadows by Mort Meskin (edited by Steven Brower). "Shadows everywhere. The stories are just a lot of old timey chatter where people call each other chum and stuff but the compositions and choices that Mort Meskin made are pretty sophisticated."
• Interview:The Comics Journal posts an article titled Crockett Johnson and the Invention of Barnaby. Philip Nel writes about it all including the creation of fairy godfather, Mr. O'Malley's favorite catchphrase. Barnaby is coming so soon, we'll all cry "Cushlamochree!"
• Review: iFanboy hypes up Impossible Tales: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 4 (by Steve Ditko and edited by Blake Bell) coming out this May. Josh Christie states: "Steve Ditko is one of those guys you could picture on the Mount Rushmore of comics creators…Like so many of the great comics from the 1950s, the drug-fueled, macabre scenes look more like something out of an alternate dimension rather than from the states’ apple pie and bubblegum past."
• Review:Arkham Comics reviews Messages in a Bottle by B. Krigstein (edited by Greg Sadowski). A rough translation states, "Messages in a Bottle is a magicalbook,atimeless andstunningclarity:a lesson incomics aswe do notmeet every day."
• Review:Noah Van Sciver's The Hypo is reviewed on We Read Comics "Sciver absolutely nails it…We see Lincoln's plain spoken style, his humbleness, his self-doubt, and his honesty here with so much fucking economy and elegance."
• Interview:Noah Van Sciver appears on Comic Impact to talk about The Hypo and his newest comics project.
• Plug:The End of the Fucking World (Spoiler alert!) on The Chemical Box. "Similar to Derf’s analysis of Jeffery Dahmer in 'My Friend Dahmer', you can see James (along with Dahmer) struggling with their basic instincts."
• Plug:The Beat waxes on about Julia Gfrörer and Black is the Color. Zainab Akhtar writes, "Gfrorer’s work is consistently excellent, featuring themes of myth, folk lore, mysticism and spirituality, coupled with her fine-lined, evocative art."
• Plug: Demencha calls Ed Piskor a Hip Hop Archeologist and more in reference to Hip Hop Famiy Tree. "His classic indie comic composition and narrative ease make the strip readable, informative (who knew Rammelzee went tagging with Basquiat?), and respectful to the art forms and artists it covers," writes J.P. McNamara.
• Review: In an oddly religious review, Mirrors of Christ looks at Eye of the Majestic Creature by Leslie Stein. "Sadly in this story the lyre (guitar) did not participate in the worship of God but in the desire of the flesh."
• Review:Orgasm reviews Sexytime edited by Jacques Boyreau. "…if you want an oversized coffee-book that your guests might enjoying flipping through the pages as you bring refreshments, Sexytime is for you. And hey, it might even get you laid."
• Review:Josh Simmons' story from The Furry Trap, 'Mark of the Bat' is reviewed on Vorptalizer. Seat T. Collins comments, " 'Mark of the Bat' picks and picks and picks at our dovetailed drive for cruelty and need to feel superior to others until the fingernail tears off. It leaves a mark."
• Plug:Comics Workbook enjoys reading The Portable Frank digitally thanks to comiXology.Leah writes, "Woodring’s way of transitioning images between panels (in, ya know, a pretty trippy way) lends itself really well to the panel by panel viewing of the digital reader."
• Plug: Tucker Stone mentions the new issue of The Comics Journal on the Comics Journal, not trying to get to incestuous. "The new issue of the Journal is pretty good; the Tardi interview is great."
• Plug:Textures of Ether looks at Abstract Comics. "Do Abstract Comics artists need to be aware of comics history?…Molotiu’s articles explore the theory behind Abstract Comics and are always interesting to read. They would make a welcome addition to any future AC anthology."
• Review: Nick Gazin checks out Cruisin' with the Hound by Spain Rodriguez on VICE. "Spain's comics always feel lively and real and there's this sense that he was probably too cool to be making comics but somehow he was. You can tell he was for real because he put the most energy into drawing motorcycles and cars and his people always look kinda like they're secondary to their machines. Great book from a great artist and story teller."
• Plug: Musical notation in Peanuts is analyzed on the Hooded Utilitarian. "In this sense, Schulz again collapses into Charlie Brown — locked out of high art virtuosity and romantic opportunities, disappointed in art as in love.…Schulz has, perhaps, found a way to invert Lichtenstein," writes Noah Berlatsky.
• Plug (video): Al Jaffee and Robert Grossman are interviewed on the Imperium about the Harvey Kurtzman retrospective at the Society of Illustrators. Jaffee states, "His concepts were, to us at the time, revolutionary because he was breaking the third or the fourth wall, whatever you want to call it."
It's a Love and Rockets two-fer! These books are in the can, ready for press, available for pre-order, and coming to you this Summer:
At last, all of Gilbert Hernandez's New Tales of Old Palomar are collected between two covers for your bookshelf, with a new name: The Children of Palomar. These stories flash back to the "Heartbreak Soup" days — and before! — and expand the Palomar mythology in new and surprising ways. When first released in comic form, this material was hailed by critics as some of Gilbert's best work ever, and the stories, while richly rewarding for longtime fans, stand on their own for new readers as well. (We've bundled it up with Gilbert's recent triumph Julio's Day in a nicely discounted set.) Get a sneak peek at 11 pages of story & art here.
Well, the Love and Rockets 30th anniversary books are missing the actual anniversary, but they are so worth the wait! The Love and Rockets Companion: 30 Years (and Counting) is the ultimate guide to everything Palomar, Hoppers, and beyond, with 3 major interviews with the Hernandez brothers, character guides, unpublished artwork, timelines, a checklist, and even letter column highlights from the original series. Oh and by the way, the black title area on the cover is a removable sticker and the jacket folds out into a poster on one side and character family tree on the other! We've put together a 32-page preview with smatterings of pages from the major sections, which you can read and/or download here.
These two covers really show off the versatility of our lead designer Tony Ong, don't they?
During the 1990s and 2000s, Peter Bagge worked mostly on his "Buddy Bradley" stories in Hate and a series of standalone graphic novels (Apocalypse Nerd), but in-between these major projects this ever-energetic cartoonist also cranked out dozens of shorter stories, which are now finally being collected in this riotously anarchic book.
Peter Bagge's Other Stuff includes a few lesser-known Bagge characters, including the wacky modern party girl "Lovey" and the aging bobo "Shut-Ins" — not to mention the self-explanatory "Rock 'N' Roll Dad" starring Murry Wilson and the Beach Boys. But many of the strips are one-off gags or short stories, often with a contemporary satirical slant, including on-site reportage like "So Much Comedy, So Little Time" (from a comedy festival) and more. Also: Dick Cheney, The Matrix, and Alien!
Other Stuff also includes a series of Bagge-written stories drawn by other cartoonists, including "Life in these United States" with Daniel Clowes, "Shamrock Squid" with Adrian Tomine, and the one-two parody punch of "Caffy" (with art by R. Crumb) and "Dildobert" (with art by Prison Pit’s Johnny Ryan)... plus a highlight of the book, the hilarious, literate and intricate exposé of "Kool-Aid Man" written by Alan Moore and drawn by Bagge. (Other collaborators include the Hernandez Brothers and Danny Hellman.)
Bagge is one of the funniest cartoonists of the century (20th or 21st), and this collection shows him at his most free-wheeling and craziest... 50 times over.
MoCCA was a BLAST, as usual. PR Director, Jacq Cohen, and I showed up early on Friday to set up the table. People couldn't wait for Saturday, clumping around the new books. Our two newest EC Comics Library releases featuring Al Williamson and Jack Davis' work are creating a heartbreakingly beautiful rainbow.
One side of the set-up table!
Friday night was Dash Shaw's opening for his New School art exhibition and 30th birthday at Desert Island. His fianceé (sorry, ladies and germs) made a cake that was uber-delicious. Below, Dash talks about his new comics.
Party hardy, Gabrielle Bell is talking to Ariel Shrag (!) in the left-hand corner.
A gentleman was purchasing Julio's Day by Gilbert Hernandez at Desert Island so we had to compliment him on his exquisite taste. Lo and behold, Tony (or so he says) showed up at MoCCA the next day ready to buy more quality comics, this time Castle Waiting Vol. 1 by Linda Medley. My mom would be so proud that I'm still somewhat polite!
I ran into a familiar face, cartoonist and animation intern Andrew Greenstone, who was more than willing to hang out and shot the shit---I mean, talk business.
If I ever become a comic book store owner, I hope I'm as cool as Gabe Fowler. The red print was a Desert Island exclusive!
Cartoonist Charles Burns showed up to hang out with friends and look at comics. I never ever tire of that man's company, but he did mention some people are reticent to eat with him because of what he draws in his comics. FOOLS, I say! Also, Evan Dorkin makes Chris Duffy guffaw in the background. Doesn't "Griffith, Dorkin, Duffy and Burns" sound like an amazing lawfirm? Like possibly corrupt but they probably have a pastry chef on staff to appease their clients?
Also signing at MoCCA was Kim Deitch, whose new book The Amazing, Enlightening and Absolutely True Adventures of Katherine Whaley is coming out soon and is haunting, to put it mildly. Deitch brought his original pages which fans poured over. James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook made their Fantagraphics signing debut for 7 Miles a Second, the moving comic written by David Wojnarowicz. The book has one of those covers that is both oblique and arresting (Jacq adds up some quick math on the right). While I did not stop a child from picking up the book, I did tell a parent or two it had adult material in it. One of my favorite sells of the weekend was selling Prison Pit Book Two to a 14 year old kid whose mom seemed dubious until I brought up the philosophy behind the book. The teen gave me a giant wink as he left, he might not get it still.
Van Cook discussed innovative printing techniques from their travels and non-profit advice while James would sketch in signed copies of the book.
Recently, Alex Dueben talked to Romberger for Comic Book Resources and stopped to meet them in person.
Next up was Leslie and Dash! Local cartoonist Leslie Stein is also in a pretty crazy fun band, Prince Rupert's Drops. If you live in the New York area, check them out. The rest of us will just live via our headphones or listening to their tracks on the recent AudioFemme interview. Leslie signed my old copy of Eye of the Majestic Creatureand we talked about second book that's coming out this fall! I heard some comments from other cartoonists that they feel weird about asking fellow toonies to sign their books but I don't give a humdinkle about that. Make it FANCY for me.
Dash signed the spine of many a Bottomless Belly Button and cover of 3 New Stories for eager fans. Those gorgeous red prints (you can only see a quarter of it) are available from Desert Island if you are looking for something for the Shaw fan who 'has it all.'
Given our close proximity to the stairs to the bathroom, there wasn't much chance for wondering down aisles or buying comics. I really wanted to read L. Nichols' Flocks and she was helpful enough to COME TO ME with her Square for my plastic purchase.
Tucker Stone, of TCJ and Bergen Street Comics, came by to get Gary's signature on a copy of The Comics Journal. Pretty cute, right?
Jacq and me with two of our debut books by Ulli Lust and Gilbert Hernandez! Photo by Dre Grigoropol.
Hung with bossman Gary Groth, Dash, Leslie and Jacq one night.
Charles Forsman was out and about with his Oily Comics micropublishing outfit. Chuck's comic, The End of the Fucking World, will be out this July from Fantagraphics in one single beautiful book. I'm so excited about that. We in no way support NCIS.
Chuck and I go way back, we used to work at the same graphic novel library together in Vermont. A photo from 2009:
Speaking of libraries, the next day Tom Spurgeon and I visited Columbia University's Butler Library and Rare Book room, led around by enthusiastic librarian Karen Green. It was so very cool to see our books with library binding but they've also perfected a myler binding so we don't lose those cool spine designs. Shaw's Bottomless Belly Button and Noah Van Sciver's The Hypo.
Kim, I didn't forget about you, the library has a lot of Jacques Tardi books. Some were checked out, which is even better than finding them at the library.
A grand place I hope to visit again. Thanks to Anelle Miller and her trusty band of volunteers for the enjoyable convention, Gary and Jacq for booth help plus a few of these photos. Lastly, another one of my favorite moments of the week was selling Dungeon Quest Book One to a gentleman on Saturday who came back Sunday to buy the other two after reading the first in one sitting. It was a cherry on top of an awesome convention.
• Chicago, IL: The legendary Gilbert Hernandez will be signing at the infamous Quimby's! Join him at 7:00 PM for the slideshow “From Funnybooks to Graphic Novels” featuring the comics of his childhood, in addition to a Q+A and signing. It's a can't-miss evening, for sure! (more info)
Friday, April 19th
• Seattle, WA: New York cartoonist Lucy Knisley will be serving up fun at the book-signing party for Relish: My Life in the Kitchen at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery! Lucy will give a slideshow presenation, and our own Larry Reid will be providing snacks made from recipes in the book! I got to sample a cookie yesterday --- delish!!! (more info)
The Year of Gilbert Hernandez begins with a bang with Julio's Day, now available via comiXology. Or truth be told it begins in the year 1900, with the scream of a newborn. It ends, 100 pages later, in the year 2000, with the death rattle of a 100-year-old man. The infant and the old man are both Julio, and Julio's Day (originally serialized in Love and Rockets Vol. II but never completed until now) is Hernandez's latest graphic novel, a masterpiece of elliptical, emotional storytelling that traces one life - indeed, one century in a human life - through a series of carefully crafted, consistently surprising and enthralling vignettes.
This singular, standalone story released this week both digitally and in print will help cement Gilbert Hernandez's position as one of the strongest and most original cartoonists of this, or any other, century. And you can read it anyway via your tablets thanks to comiXology.
"A haunting performance and about as perfect a literary work as I've read in years. Hernandez accomplishes in 100 pages what most novelists only dream of — rendering the closeted phlegmatic Julio in all his confounding complexity and in the process creating an unflinching biography of a community, a country and a century. A masterpiece." – Junot Díaz