Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.
Alien Nation (Amazon | Book Depository)
Written and Illustrated by Sandro Bassi Publisher: Levine Querido (2021) ISBN: 9781646140381 (ISBN10: 1646140389). Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.
When the world changed drastically last year, requiring most everyone to stay at home, dependent on their wifi, computers, mobile devices, television for entertainment – one can go as far as claim that there was a definitive shift in people’s consciousness.
There were, of course, those who opted out of technological means of amusing themselves – some read, others played music (or learned how to play a new instrument), several became aspiring gardeners or bakers or yogis. Yet, one has to acknowledge that this over-reliance on mobile devices has been going on even before the pandemic started, and may have even been exacerbated by people’s physical disconnection from everything familiar, confined to the four walls of their homes.
Enter Sandro Bassi’s 2021 translated picturebook.
Done completely in wordless black and white visual narrative, it is an allegorical tale of creatures consumed by their devices. It appears like every breathing, walking, talking moment is wrapped up in whatever it is that is going on in these little screens.
This book reminded me of another black-and-white wordless allegorical tale that I have just reviewed here a few weeks back: Belgian Peter Van den Ende’s The Wanderer (Amazon | Book Depository). Although that one explores an entirely different theme altogether, the style and wordless nature of the storytelling struck me as strikingly similar.
There is much that can be extrapolated and discussed in this complex and multi-layered picturebook. It goes beyond a cautionary, didactic story – but more like providing the reader with a mirror of life as we go through it now.
It also made me reflect on what the picture of existence would be like post-pandemic, once we have survived all this (with divine providence and if the universe wills it). Have we, indeed, become, aliens unto ourselves – paradoxically connected while also utterly disconnected from everything and everyone, including one’s self?
#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 67 out of target 100