The Rabbi's Cat

Sfar, Joann

Book - 2005
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Rabbi's Cat
The preeminent work by one of France's most celebrated young comic artists, The Rabbi's Cat tells the wholly unique story of a rabbi, his daughter, and their talking cat -- a philosopher brimming with scathing humor and surprising tenderness. In Algeria in the 1930s, a cat belonging to a widowed rabbi and his beautiful daughter, Zlabya, eats the family parrot and gains the ability to speak. To his master's consternation, the cat immediately begins to tell lies (the first being that he didn't eat the parrot). The rabbi vows to educate him in the ways of the Torah, while the cat insists on studying the kabbalah and having a Bar Mitzvah. They consult the rabbi's rabbi, who maintains that a cat can't be Jewish -- but the cat, as always, knows better. Zlabya falls in love with a dashing young rabbi from Paris, and soon master and cat, having overcome their shared self-pity and jealousy, are accompanying the newlyweds to France to meet Zlabya's cosmopolitan in-laws. Full of drama and adventure, their trip invites countless opportunities for the rabbi and his cat to grapple with all the important -- and trivial -- details of life. Rich with the colors, textures, and flavors of Algeria's Jewish community, The Rabbi's Cat brings a lost world vibrantly to life -- a time and place where Jews and Arabs coexisted -- and peoples it with endearing and thoroughly human characters, and one truly unforgettable cat.

Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, c2005
ISBN: 0375422811
Branch Call Number: GN SFAR
Characteristics: 142 p. :,col. ill. ;,27 cm


From Library Staff

The Rabbi's Cat tells the wholly unique story of a rabbi, his daughter, and their talking cat -- a philosopher brimming with scathing humor and surprising tenderness.

From the critics

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Dec 25, 2014
  • thoshmore rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I'm not Jewish, but I know enough of Jewish culture to really like this book. And I know enough of cats. Sfar gets both right in a wonderful way. What keeps me from giving this 5 stars is the fact that I don't really like the artwork -- I can see that it's well done, but this style of angularity and distortion doesn't work for me. I'm much more of a Wrightson/Vess fan (I could give a long list of other graphic novelists, but if you don't know those two it won't help). In all other ways, this is a thoughtful and fascinating book.

Jun 27, 2014
  • Sanrin rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Interesting and fund, but the animated movie is even better and more unpredictable.

Jun 02, 2013
  • lnarizny rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Even better than the first book. The first story deepens the friendship between the cat and Malka's lion, as well as exploring Malka himself. The second story is more about the humans in the cat's family, who take a trip deep into Africa, along with a Russian Jew and the group's rich sponsor, to find the mythical city of black Jews. As always, their adventures along the way are heartbreaking and hilarious.

Jan 30, 2012
  • garrettsbarry rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Although comic and well illustrated, the overall message seemed as hopeless and narrow minded as the religious ideals that tries to undermine.

May 20, 2010
  • JFrizell rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Excellent graphic novel about a cat who gains the ability to talk and the evolution of his relationship with his master and mistresses, as well as his religious education.

May 20, 2008
  • bibliouncommon rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Fabulous graphic novel! Sfar has obviously channelled his cat, and this makes for an authentic, original, and eccentric character.


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