James Joyce: Portrait of a Dubliner--A Graphic Biography

Alfonso Zapico (Author)


A dazzling, prize-winning graphic biography of one of the world's most revered writers.

Winner of Spain's National Comic Prize and published to acclaim in Ireland, here is an extraordinary graphic biography of James Joyce that offers a fresh take on his tumultuous life. With evocative anecdotes and hundreds of ink-wash drawings, Alfonso Zapico invites the reader to share Joyce's journey, from his earliest days in Dublin to his life with his great love, Nora Barnacle, and their children, and his struggles and triumphs as an artist.

Joyce experienced poverty, rejection, censorship, charges of blasphemy and obscenity, war, and crippling ill-health. A rebel and nonconformist in Dublin and a harsh critic of Irish society, he left Ireland in self-imposed exile with Nora, moving to Paris, Pola, Trieste, Rome, London, and finally Zurich. He overcame monumental challenges in creating and publishing Dubliners, Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, and Finnegan's Wake. Along the way, he encountered a colorful cast of characters, from the Irish nationalists Charles Parnell and Michael Collins to literary greats Yeats, Proust, Hemingway, and Beckett, and the likes of Carl Jung and Vladimir Lenin.

Product Details

Arcade Publishing
Publish Date
May 03, 2016
6.3 X 0.9 X 9.3 inches | 1.3 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Alfonso Zapico, born in Blimea in Asturias, Spain, is a storyteller and freelance illustrator who has published several graphic works, including the novel Café Budapest, which won the Josep Toutain Prize at the 2010 Barcelona International Comic Fair. He spent months in Dublin and other of Joyce's home cities researching James Joyce: Portrait of a Dubliner, which won Spain's National Comic Prize in 2012. He lives in Angoulême, France.


"Zapico remains true to the life and spirit of the Irish master while appealing to readers who might not have the patience for either Joyce's novels or a standard, more exhaustive biography. . . . A solid account of the development of a writer not easy to encapsulate." --Kirkus

"Readers familiar with James Joyce only through his dour dust-jacket photos are in for a big surprise in this warts-and-all graphic biography of Ireland's best-known and most divisive writer. . . . Using a traditional sequential panel format, the black-and-white, ink-wash illustrations are surprisingly expressive, capturing Joyce's jocular manner and rabble-rousing with an indulgent yet objective hand. Because it reveals its subject without sensationalizing or glamorizing him, readers will close the book with a better understanding of a complex man and his influential work." --Booklist

"This biography is an enjoyable, valuable introduction to Joyce for students and literary-minded readers, high school and up. . . . Zapico spares none of the novelist's personal complexities or contradictions." --Library Journal

"Zapico has created a well-rounded and honest portrait of a controversial yet brilliant writer, and the genius as well as the artistic temperament shines through on every page." --Portland Book Review

"The cartoonist's sensory immersion in the landscapes of Joyce's life lends this Portrait of a Dubliner its visual authority: the sordid charm of turn-of-the-century Dublin, the civilized cosmopolitanism of Trieste at the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the modernist ebullience of interwar Paris are all portrayed vividly in Zapico's lively gestural style of freehand drawing and ink-wash shading. . . . Zapico is especially good on Joyce's political and historical context. . . . The story he tells is a model of artistic independence in times of crisis. For that reason alone, Joyce might well have admired this particular comic book." --Rain Taxi Review of Books

"Alfonso Zapico gives a thorough and masterful pictorial retelling of Joyce's life in James Joyce: Portrait of a Dubliner: A Graphic Biography, a graphic novel that goes far toward illuminating the enigmatic author. . . . With his excellent illustrations, Zapico not only makes the many characters in Joyce's life story distinct, but also provides rich background details of the cities that were so important to Joyce's development. . . . Zapico's text is well-written and substantial, complementing the book's images perfectly. For those already familiar with Joyce's writings . . . or those interested in the origins of those works, James Joyce: Portrait of a Dubliner is a brilliant companion." --Foreword

"Remarkable . . . The life of James Joyce--and his all-consuming love for Nora--are brought spectacularly alive." --Irish Independent

"A wonderful piece of work . . . a comic book artist at the top of his game."--forbiddenplanet.co.uk

"Zapico tosse[s] out the panels in moments of fluid genius . . . it really does bring the general debauchery of Joyce's life to the fore." --girlslikecomics.com

"There are many celebrated lives of Joyce, but few of them will achieve the extraordinary immediacy and pathos of Zapico's work. . . . James Joyce, Portrait of a Dubliner is a comic, brilliant and heartfelt book that transcends whatever baggage comes with the [graphic] genre to become something much more elevated and accomplished." --Irish Central