Book of the Month February 2019

Alpha: Abidjan to Paris

by French illustrator Barroux and writer Bessora. Translated by Sarah Ardizzone and supported by Amnesty International.

“We are all somebodies, not nobodies” – Bessora.

Alpha does not consider himself ‘illegal’; he thinks of himself as an adventurer. But he’s even stronger, or perhaps just luckier, than most travellers. He says, “Indiana Jones would have died eight times over” if he’d been faced with the thirst, uncertainty, deception, illness, and death that Alpha experiences on his months-long trek from Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, to Paris, France, making the same journey as his wife and child.

Throughout his journey Alpha meets a cast of unforgettable characters, from football-mad Antoine from Cameroon who dreams of getting to Spain to play football for F.C. Barcelona; Abebi from Lagos whose own sad story also unfolds and a young child Augustin, who is travelling alone.

Our February Book of the Month is a powerful, pertinent and thought provoking book. This is the real refugee crisis, beautifully told as a graphic novel.

The artwork has been created with cheap felt-tip pens and wash to represent the materials Alpha himself might have been able to access. Alpha has won the English Pen Award, the Prix Medecins San Frontieres, is endorsed by Amnesty International and was nominated for the 2017 Carnegie Medal.

 It gets the thumbs up from us too.