Soul Guides Golo Zhao | Review


Published on Mar 07, 2019


Crystalline talent of the new generation of asian, as well as the winner of the Prize of Schools at the Festival d'angoulême in 2012, with Yaya – made together with the author Jean-Marie Omont – Golo Zhao back with a new work published by Bao Publishing for Necklace Chinese. Soul Guide, with its heartbreaking but at the same time sweet and elegant melancholy, it brings a new reflection on the death, steeped in the oriental culture, being able to leave an indelible mark on the reader.


The narrative structure of the Soul Guides may appear, after a quick skim through of the volume, simple and straightforward: in each chapter of the work, the author tells the stories and lives of people seemingly detached from one another: a young man saved from a car accident, passing by an elderly couple with a shop of cameras, one almost a teenager struggling with first crush, and an old lady owner of a convenience store, every story starts and ends in the space that the author has decided to dedicate to it. However, there is a red thread that holds together the stories, told with a fairy tale-like style, and veiled in a sad melancholy: the death.

All the protagonists, in one way or another, have to deal with the suffering, the sense of loss, life and death, feelings inevitably belonging to the existence of every human being. And these fragments of existence, as a sort of map of the soul, are the sense taking suddenly form in a single and cohesive guide of the soul in the last two closing chapters, tracing a route that allows the reader to not only understand the role of the ferryman of souls, but to immerse themselves intimately in matters related to proposals remaining, inevitably, emotionally involved.


With an alarming simplicity and poetic sadness, an oxymoronic fusion of tone and fairy-tale and the most profound melancholy – not only represented by the factor of the narrative, but concretely in the flow in front of the view of the reader with a technical style is refined, simple and at the same time, evocative to the max – Zhao manages to create a work that meets narratively the reader in terms of plot, dragging it in a whirlwind of emotions from which it can not get out, after having internalized the issues are so important, so abstract but also concrete, as the meaning of life and the meaning of death.

Soul Guide is a great encyclopedia of comics, where everyone (if only you wanted to, you could multiply the simple stories submitted to the infinite), it takes part with its own story to the flow of life, that is active in the form of life or latent, in the form of death. The big message that emerges from the work is that, in this continuous becoming only love, in its broadest sense, and most pure, is capable of transcending the limits of space and time being the only certainty. And it is at the bottom of this discovery, this certainty, is the holy Grail of achievement for all human beings, to their deepest essence, to be able to finally disengage from an earthly form of the passage.

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