Review: The Rabbi’s Cat

In my misspent youth I took French lessons and am able to get through Paris without causing International Incidents. My reading skills in French are better than my ability to speak it, and that’s okay: I like to think you get into less trouble with an open book than an open mouth. Little Did I Know.

So I’ve got this friend, brilliant fellow-writer Nalo Hopkinson, and one day she asked me if I could read French. Why yes; yes, I can, I replied. And I was thereupon treated to that rare phenomenon, the ability to hear via e-mail someone rubbing their hands together in fiendish glee and chortling “Mwahaha!” Soon after that, the mail brought to my innocent hands a French graphic novel called [[[Le Chat Du Rabin]]], aka The Rabbi’s Cat. It was written by marvelously prolific French writer-artist Joan Sfar, and let’s get one thing out of the way now, FWIW: Joan is a man. It happens.

The Rabbi’s Cat is set in 1930s French North Africa. I’m being typically lazy as I write this, which is why I’m fudging on exactly where in French North Africa. Morocco, I think. (Mmmmm, fudge!) The protagonist is—see if you can guess. . .YES! Right in one!—the rabbi’s cat. He looks to be related to the Sphinx breed and he dwells with the rabbi and the rabbi’s beautiful daughter.

There is also a parrot. It is a very loud and talkative parrot. It is an obnoxious parrot. It is a highly inconvenient parrot and so, cat’s being cats, soon it is an EX-parrot! (Oh, how I’ve wanted to say that!)

And under the enchanting rules of Sfar’s fiction, in a miraculous moment, because he has eaten a talking parrot, the rabbi’s cat can now talk!