By Sophie Yanow. Published by Drawn & Quarterly.
Softcover, 204 pages, B&W, 2020.
THE EISNER AWARD-WINNING STORY ABOUT A STUDENT FIGURING OUT RADICAL POLITICS IN A MESSY WORLD
Sophie’s young and queer and into feminist theory. She decides to study abroad, choosing Paris for no firm reason beyond liking French comics. Feeling a bit lonely and out of place, she’s desperate for community and a sense of belonging. She stumbles into what/who she’s looking for when she meets Zena. An anarchist student-activist committed to veganism and shoplifting, Zena offers Sophie a whole new political ideology that feels electric. Enamored—of Zena, of the idea of living more righteously—Sophie finds herself swept up in a whirlwind friendship that blows her even farther from her rural Californian roots as they embark on a disastrous hitchhiking trip to Amsterdam and Berlin full of couch surfing, drug tripping, and radical book fairs.
Capturing that time in your life where you’re meeting new people and learning about the world—when everything feels vital and urgent—The Contradictions is Sophie Yanow’s fictionalized coming-of-age story. Sophie’s attempts at ideological purity are challenged time and again, putting into question the plausibility of a life of dogma in a world filled with contradictions. Keenly observed, frank, and very funny, The Contradictions speaks to a specific reality while also being incredibly relatable, reminding us that we are all imperfect people in an imperfect world.
Praise for The Contradictions
Beautifully-crafted, this is an insightful, entertaining story of a young, queer student’s travels around Europe and the lessons she learns.Toronto Star
The Contradictions is Yanow’s best work yet. The atmosphere of Yanow’s lines paired with the clarity of her writing form a style of comics that I have never seen before. Every panel makes you want to cry and laugh simultaneously.Tillie Walden, author of On a Sunbeam
[The Contradictions is] delivered in a comics style that has clarity of line and of writing, and its maturity creeps up on you.The Toronto Star
An engrossing and affecting coming of age story, Sophie Yanow’s The Contradictions is a fascinating study of making friends, anarchism and hitchhiking across Europe.The Quietus
The Contradictions captures that period of trying on a self, and is by turns discomfiting and funny… Using only a few lines and a slender story, Yanow conjures the particular pleasure of wandering aimlessly around a European city.Rumaan Alam, The New Republic
This funny and very knowing graphic novel will still strike an exceedingly loud chord with anyone who is, or has ever been, a fresher, far from home and all at sea.Rachel Cooke, The Guardian
Sophie Yanow’s autofictional account of a young woman studying abroad in Paris and encountering new ideas bucks all expectations such a synopsis and genre might engender... [It] conveys an authenticity of experience that is at times maddening in its prosaic fidelity.SOLRAD's Best Comics of 2020
Yanow’s book—with its neatly organized six-panel pages, observant narrator, and simple black-and-white illustrations—is surprisingly calm for all the wild events that happen, but that’s probably the point. Across all the adventures, Sophie’s doing her best to find herself. And eventually, she’ll find her way to a place where she can call home.San Francisco Weekly
[Yanow's] blocky art style is sublimely beautiful and expressive.Publishers Weekly 2020 Graphic Novel Critics Poll
Appealing both to indie comics fans on the cusp of coming-of-age to those looking back decades to their own youthful follies, this assured, smart chronicle is a winner.Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
The Contradictions is a masterpiece of literary minimalism.Pop Matters
The Contradictions isn't just an engaging read, it's a warming and affirming one.NPR
[The Contradictions] tells a queer coming-of-age story of a 20-year-old who goes to Paris to study... and ends up hitchhiking around Europe with a sulky, shoplifting, vegan anarchist while grappling with what she truly believes in as she falls sway to the more compelling beliefs of others. In other words, what pretty much every young person grapples with as they try to figure out the world and themselves, and how to deal with the messiness of living in a compromised world.The Marin Independent Journal
Yanow’s voice is pointed, her cartooning delightfully specific without being precious or showy. [The Contradictions] subtly, effectively challenges readers to dig into their own internal dissonance.Library Journal
Achingly funny.The Irish Times, Best Graphic Novels of 2020
It’s a story of growing up and facing the moments when you don’t know who you are yet but desperately wanting to be seen as beyond your years — even though you ultimately learn you’ve just been swept away by someone (read: a girl) with effortless charisma.GO Magazine
In a world where things held as certainties appear to be crumbling every week, her story becomes surprisingly poignant, placing us all in the position that Sophie is in, trying to make sense of things that everyone else seems to have understood except us.Geekd Out
As the title highlights, Sophie is pushed and pulled between extremes, frequently contradicting herself in exchanges and social interactions (as well as in her own internal monologue). The strength of the story is its ability to show these contradictions not just as youthful weaknesses or mistakes, but as testament to the complex layers that come with growing up.Elephant
Personable and wise... [The Contradictions] invites you to align your own experiences with those [Yanow] presents during that period of time where we’re trying to differentiate ourselves by trying to find a place where we belong.Comics Beat
This book suceeds thoroughly on the strength of extra characterization, played out in the way people talk, the bad decisions they make, and the half-truths they tell themselves to justify their actions. Great storytelling and great cartooning.Comics Bookcase, Best of 2020
Yanow draws with a clarity of line and thought. When you flip the pages, you immediately notice the negative space that reads like its own subtle commentary. Her characters move and act with a damning realism that only draws the reader nearer to the page. It’s unavoidable to see our own missteps fall in line with those of her characters.CNMN Magazine
Exciting new work from a writer-artist who seems set to be a cornerstone for the industry for years to come.Comic Book Resources
Sophie Yanow’s longest-form work to date is also her most confident and accomplished.Broken Frontier
A clever, endearing tale of the thrill of falling in with someone new, and the relief of returning to oneself.Booklist
Drawn in a black-and-white ligne claire style and primarily laid out on a six-panel grid, The Contradictions’ understated visuals sell the austerity of Sophie’s study abroad experience, which loses its wonder when Sophie understands the personal cost.AV Club
The Contradictions is a masterpiece. Sophie Yanow’s tale of hitchhiking around Europe under the spell of a sulky, fixie-riding anarchist is a pitch-perfect portrait of youthful disillusionment and self-discovery. Yanow’s impeccable ligne claire drawing seems to mathematically cancel out everything nonessential in her panels, and the effect is surprisingly, even transcendently, emotional.Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home