Rebetiko refers to the fusion of West and East, Greece and Asia Minor, in music. However, to General Metaxas, it is only a reminder of the Turkish influence on his country. The ruthless Greek dictator is determined to crack down on rebetis and their way of life, creating strict censorship. A small group of friends Rebetiko musicians wind their way through the Athenian backstreets, ouzeris, and market squares, dodging the police while settling disputes over hashish and women. With music at its heart, the narrative portrays a day in the life of the Rebetiko musicians in Athens in 1936.
Praise for Rebetiko:
A convincing portrayal of the pressures and pleasures faced by artistic and political outsiders.” Booklist
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David Prudhomme is a graduate of the Arts School of Angoulême and an award-winning graphic novelist. He lives in Bordeaux, France.From Booklist:
In the mid-1930s, the Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas’ censorship measures included a crackdown on rebetiko, a style of music that incorporated supposedly degenerate Turkish elements. This graphic novel by French cartoonist Prudhomme recounts a day and a night in the life of a group of rebetiko musicians as they stumble across Athens, gabbing in cafés, performing in clubs, and dodging the police. The hashish-fueled ramblings of the band members—based loosely on actual musicians—evoke the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle of a later generation. Prudhomme’s naturalistic drawings enhance the authenticity of the tale. However, his low-key visual style—along with a muted, almost monochromatic color scheme—fails to convey the excitement of the musical performances that lie at the crux of the story; a more expressive approach might have better served the material. Shortcomings aside, Rebetiko, the recipient of several prestigious awards at European graphic-novel festivals, is a convincing portrayal of the pressures and pleasures faced by artistic and political outsiders. --Gordon Flagg
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