The Strange by Jérôme Ruillier: In stores today!
Our dear retired Chief, Chris Oliveros, still pulls a few string around here, and one of his roles is bringing in books from time to time. Which is great news, because his eye is unparalleled. One such book is The Strange by Jérôme Ruillier. I was honored to see it through the editorial process with our French translator Helge Dascher.
A very simply and beautiful told story about one undocumented immigrant's time trying to form a life for himself/his family as an illegal immigrant in France, The Strange's strengths comes from the universality of the story. Stripped of specificity, like which war-torn country he's fled, or even where he's landed, his struggles are an amalgam of the struggles faced my undocumented people daily. Indeed, to come up with the story, Jérôme interviewed many illegal immigrants. The Strange combines their stories into one character's fictional reality.
Achingly depicting the vulnerability of being undocumented, The Strange employs a third-person narrative, told through the people our lead character encounters—employers, neighbors, strangers, and even an observant crow. What unfolds is a harsh depiction of prejudices and cruelty, lack of understanding and fear, kindness and hope.
Jérôme employs a bold visual approach of colored pencil drawings complemented by a stark, limited palette of red, orange and green backgrounds. Its beautiful simplicity represents the almost child-like hope and promise that is often associated with new beginnings. But as Jérôme implicitly suggests, it’s a promise that can shatter at a moment’s notice when the threat of being deported is a daily and terrifying reality.
The Strange is in stores today. It's an important story, lending a voice to those who are rarely heard. We couldn't be more honored to publish it, and hope you check it out.