A fascinating and urgent political statement in favor of empathy for the strangers in our midst during a time when many have little of it.Abraham Riesman, Vulture
The story of one undocumented immigrant’s journey, told by the people who employ him, feed him, and report him
The Strange follows an unnamed, undocumented immigrant who tries to forge a new life in a Western country where he doesn’t speak the language. Jérôme Ruillier’s story is deftly told through myriad viewpoints, as each narrator recounts a situation in which they crossed paths with the newly-arrived foreigner. Many of the people he meets are suspicious of his unfamiliar background, or of the unusual language they do not understand. By employing this third-person narrative structure, Ruillier masterfully portrays the complex plight of immigrants and the vulnerability of being undocumented. The Strange shows one person’s struggle to adapt while dealing with the often brutal and unforgiving attitudes of the employers, neighbors, and strangers who populate this new land.
Ruillier 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 Ruillier 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 has been translated from the French by Helge Dascher. Dascher has been translating graphic novels from French and German to English for over twenty years. A contributor to Drawn & Quarterly since the early days, her translations include acclaimed titles such as the Aya series by Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie, Hostage by Guy Delisle, and Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët. With a background in art history and history, she also translates books and exhibitions for museums in North America and Europe. She lives in Montreal.
Praise for The Strange
In today’s world, where talk of borders is never missing from the news cycle, The Strange is an important book. Everyone is strange somewhere.The Toronto Star
[The Strange] is deeply moving and affecting in a way that has stayed with me long after I stopped reading.The Rumpus
Affecting and poignant, The Strange is a deftly told exploration of the struggle facing undocumented immigrants at the hands of a hostile European state.The Quietus
The simple colours and economically drawn animals might suggest innocence, but threats lurk on every page in a compelling account of life of societies edge.The Guardian
This is what it was like. For many who still live with the threat of deportation and whose delicate and uncertain future waits on the desks of others, this is what it is still like.The Atlantic
A beautifully realized condensation of difficult real-world problems as deceptively simple lines and words, floating somewhere between fiction and non-fiction as so many great stories do. Honest and timely, a must-read.Shaun Tan, The Arrival
A moving portrait of one refugee's journey rendered in bold strokes, The Strange is a powerful reminder that we are all part of the frightening system that displaced people move through, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.Sarah Glidden, Rolling Blackouts
In The Strange, we experience the manner in which each new interaction for an undocumented immigrant can be a matter of jeopardy. The art throughout this graphic novel is haunting, stressful, and beautiful.Lit Hub