Adult Books Contours of Love Genre graphic novel Lifespan of a Reader Reading Themes

[Saturday Reads] A Feminist Love Story in Isabel Greenberg’s “One Hundred Nights Of Hero”

100 Nights Of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

Myra here.

This is one book that I discovered through Litsy, my favourite book-related app. I was so taken by the cover that I immediately hunted it down from our libraries.

I was so glad to note as I was reading it that it fits our Contours of Love reading theme so perfectly.

The One Hundred Nights Of Hero

Created By: Isabel Greenberg
Published by: Little Brown and Company, 2016
ISBN: 0316259179 (ISBN13: 9780316259170). Borrowed from Jurong West Public Library. Book quotes taken by me.

it may be too early to say this, but this will most likely make one of my top graphic novels read this year. While it follows the tradition of The Arabian Nights, Isabel Greenberg managed to turn the classic tale over on its head, while retaining its circuitous, labyrinthine, story-within-story structure. The graphic novel opens with the beginning of the “weird” world, very reminiscent of Nordic/Greek myths of gods and goddesses:

And just like the classic tales of gods and mortals, one thing that the creators did not anticipate was… love and its power:

And as further proof of this “amazing” feeling such that “people kill for it” – the story in the city of Migdal Bavel begins – and it starts off with two arrogant-but-fairly-obtuse men who were making a diabolical wager concerning wives and their purity and how these dastardly females can easily be manipulated into committing infidelity.

What these men did not anticipate was that the wife in question named Cherry, was actually smarter than she let on – and that she was carrying on an illicit love affair with her maid, named Hero.

While one female can be dangerous, two women working in tandem can be downright fatal. Hence, Cherry and Hero manage to avoid the advances of this cruel, self-congratulatory, evil man with Hero telling tales within tales – she is the Scheherazade of this story. It is not surprising, seeing that she is descended from The League of Secret Storytellers:

Isabel Greenberg’s art and dialogue reminds me a little bit of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona (see my review here) – except that Greenberg has a more epic vision that takes on the entire universe. All the men in this story are philandering, too full of themselves, and thoroughly self-serving. They are also threatened by women’s intelligence or crippled by their burning love for them. In Greenberg’s universe, females are not allowed to read or write – lest they be called witches – and most naturally, they find ways and means to read and write, like these sisters here:

This is not to say that the tales end happily – in fact, most of the stories end tragically with sisters killing each other or women being burned at the stake. In fact, the moral lessons found at the end of the stories within stories can be summed up in this fashion:

Yet, despite the lack of power, most of the females in this story manage to subvert masculine authority by showing exactly how ultimately foolish it is, as they set about exposing man’s weaknesses and predilections and fears, rendering them irrelevant, really – as true love is shown to exist among a sisterhood – or among women – a bond that is forged by shared pain and persecution. Find this book. It is one of a kind.

#LitWorld2018GB Update: United Kingdom (Isabel Greenberg is a London based artist)

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Singapore. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she serves as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads or meeting up with her book club friends, she is smashing that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life.

5 comments on “[Saturday Reads] A Feminist Love Story in Isabel Greenberg’s “One Hundred Nights Of Hero”

  1. “The League of Secret Storytellers” sounds so exciting and romantic. The moral “and they can get away with it” is hard to swallow!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds intense. Added to the TBR.


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