Booklist gives Berlin a starred review

“Booklist Starred Review” / Booklist / Gordon Flagg / October 15, 2018

Weimar Berlin, with its cultural vibrancy, sexual libertinism, and political turmoil, has inspired any number of acclaimed narratives by creators from Isherwood to Fassbinder. The completion of Berlin, which Lutes has been serializing for more than two decades, adds another formidable work to that list. The monumental graphic novel opens in 1928, with the fateful meeting of aspiring artist Marthe Müller and journalist Kurt Severing on a Berlin-bound train. Newcomer Müller is increasingly drawn to the city’s vitality, while Severing’s innate cynicism grows into despair as he witnesses the rise to power of the National Socialists. In addition to this central pair, Lutes follows the lives of a handful of representative Berliners, including struggling workers, a divided Jewish family, Communists and Nazis, a wealthy socialite, and a touring group of African American jazz musicians, all set against his vividly rendered portrayal of the teeming metropolis. Lutes’ unfussy graphic approach is derived from the European ligne claire cartoon style, a geographically and stylistically appropriate technique for his complex, sprawling tale. When Lutes launched his ambitious effort in 1996, he had no way of knowing how prescient and timely its story of idealistic radicals resisting violent white nationalists in the streets would be by the time he completed it.

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