REVIEWS

The Listener COVERAlternative Magazine (UK) selected THE LISTENER as one of the best graphic novels of 2011: “The Listener offers a unique blend of fact and fiction delivered in an original, unique style. Although the often profound dialogue may prove to be an obstacle for some readers, those willing to delve deeper will discover a story worth reading. It is somewhat revealing that the final words of the main story are ‘I don’t get it.’ David Lester has created a graphic novel that won’t be accessible to everyone, but that stands as a powerful work of art nonetheless.”

“Lester mines expressionist graphic manners… to forge a black-and-white style that powerfully realizes his exceptionally literate script.” — Booklist (American Library Association)

The Listener was selected as one of the best books of 2011 so far, by the School Library Journal (New York).

“A dense and fiercely intelligent work that asks important questions about art, history, and the responsibility of the individual, all in a lyrical and stirring tone.”Publishers Weekly (New York)

“A superb cautionary tale in which your art and words combine to stir up many emotions, thoughts and reveries, managing to be a fascinating personal and historical journey and a treatise on the politics of art which at the same time addresses self-doubt, fear, and sadness yet inspires action …an ambitious project to be sure and fully realized!” — Ron Sakolsky, Emeritus Professor of Public Policy (University of Illinois)

“The juxtaposition of text and image, for me, carried the juxtaposition of past and present and their complex relationship brilliantly.” Paddy’s Bookshelf #3 (London, UK)

“[Lester] refuses to let us believe that we can shut the door on the misguided use of art “back then.” We, too, are seekers. We, too, are tempted. We, too, aren’t always sure what to do with our powers of creation and destruction.” Isak interview with David.

“This demands to  be added to any shelf on which Anne Frank’s Diary, as well as Maus or Miriam Katin’s We Are on Our Own, are available.” — Francisca Goldsmith, School Library Journal (New York)

“The drawings in The Listener are lovely… Lester has a particular skill in depicting the inner lives of his characters, as when Louise visits the Malthausen concentration camp: In one panel, she is shown standing alone; the subsequent pages fill the same frame with a population of ghosts. It’s a powerful image, and an advantage the graphic novel has over a traditional novel or a movie.” — Hasan Altaf, 3 Quarks Daily (Washington, DC)

“Here the little-known history of the Nazi propaganda push in one small German state is rendered in astonishing detail: the political machinations between the right-wing German National People’s Party and the Nazi Party, the eventual agreement that the former would support the latter in Lippe elections, the stifling of the press, the assassination of a reporter, the brave acts of a few, the cowardice of the many… a meditative, memorable graphic novel.” — Andrea Appleton, Baltimore City Paper

“I readily add David Lester’s The Listener to my graphic novel collection and place it appropriately beside Jason Lutes’ Berlin: City of Stones.” Burning Billboard (Montreal)

“The Listener achieves a unity of theme, delving deep into the nature of propaganda, passivity and the possibilities of resistance.” — Hal Niedzviecki, Broken Pencil (Canada)

” …there’s a thematic depth and sense of ambition to The Listener that’s admirable. As Lester’s heroine tours museums and contemplates how art often fails to capture real atrocity, The Listener’s intellectual approach begins to reflect what it’s about.” — A.V. Club, The Onion

“This is an excellent graphic novel for teens who appreciate history or have an interest in contemporary politics as well as for young artists and writers who can both learn from and appreciate the storytelling that brings the past to life while focusing on a character’s present. From the opening passages, the tension never lets up, yet the story remains accessible and memorable.” — Francisca Goldsmith, School Library Journal (New York)

“Lester’s monochrome panels are lovely, bringing an emotional payload to all that heavy subject matter.” — Adrian Mack, Georgia Straight (Vancouver)

“Louise is an extraordinary original. Speaking as a reviewer of comic art since 1970 and historian of comic art, in some way, for the last thirty years, I can say that no one has captured better this dilemma of the politically-inspired artist. An achievement all the more remarkable because the author-artist of this book has managed to place himself within a female protagonist, with perhaps as much skill as the scriptwriters (one of them, later blacklist victim and my own late friend, Ring Lardner, Jr.) was to manage for his friend, that great actress of spunky women, Katharine Hepburn.” — Paul Buhle, ZEEK: A Jewish Journal of Thought & Culture (San Francisco, CA)

“In this striking mixture of fiction and history, Lester makes a compelling argument for the need to continue to speak to others through your political artwork. Along the way, of course, Lester also gives us a lot of great artwork, strong characterizations and a fascinating look into the way Hitler rose to power in Germany in 1933.” — Comic Book Resources

“Lester’s drawing is wonderfully expressive and the book is an intense and well-structured look at a forgotten pivotal moment in history…”— BK Munn, Sequential (Canada)

“David Lester depicts the shadowy relationship between words and actions in The Listener. The black guilt that weighs heavily within Louise and the German couple seeps across each page like a Rorschach blot.” — Nicole Gluckstern, SF Bay Guardian (San Francisco, CA)

“A beautifully and powerfully presented story which reveals how each moment in time can have a huge impact upon the future.” — Dun and Red, a readers’ advisory resource blog (Pima County Public Library, Tucson, Arizona)

“Lots of depth, lots of great imagery.” —Comic Attack (Los Angeles)

“…this affecting and thoughtful debut belongs on any grown-up comic bookshelf that also includes, say, Art Spiegelman’s Maus, and Alan Moore and Joyce Brabner’s Iran-Contra history, Brought to Light.” — Adrian Mack, Georgia Straight (Vancouver)

“Just as Art Spiegelman juxtaposes his contemporary life and his father’s struggles during the Holocaust, Lester similarly contrasts the past and present.” The Daily Californian (Berkeley, CA)

” …a perfect theme for a melancholy and mature black and white graphic novel.” — ComicList (San Francisco, CA)

“This is an amazing book. I loved both the pictures and the text, but was most impressed with how the stories were interwoven. I think this would make a very interesting book for discussion groups.” — Sarah Batchelder, Masters in Library Science, Goodreads (Tuscon, Arizona)

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The Listenerby David Lester (Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2011) $19.95, ISBN: 9781894037488

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