Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations

by Mira Jacob

Hardcover, 2019





One World (2019), 368 pages


Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob's half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions about everything. At first they are innocuous enough, but as tensions from the 2016 election spread from the media into his own family, they become much, much more complicated. Trying to answer him honestly, Mira has to think back to where she's gotten her own answers: her most formative conversations about race, color, sexuality, and, of course, love. Written with humor and vulnerability, this deeply relatable graphic memoir is a love letter to the art of conversation--and to the hope that hovers in our most difficult questions.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Hccpsk
Good Talk by Mira Jacobs is a really interesting and well-done graphic novel memoir. Jacobs uses the graphic format to its fullest as she recounts her life from her parents’ arranged marriage up through the Trump election. Interspersed throughout are conversations with her son about race, Michael Jackson, Donald Trump and knock-knock jokes among other things. Jacobs finds the humor in most of it and that really shines through making Good Talk a thoroughly enjoyable book. Highly recommended to graphic novels readers looking for something different or a great intro into the genre for others.… (more)
LibraryThing member streamsong
Author Mira Jacob has written a stunning graphic novel about living as an Indian American in the US, and struggling to explain racism to her mixed race son. Her son asks straightforward questions as children will do – in the vein of why the emperor has no clothes. The questions themselves and their answers are often funny and sad at the same time.

We learn of Mira’s growing up, her experiences after 9/11 when anyone with a darker complexion was met with distrust and she was told to ‘Just go back home!” We see her angst as Donald Trump rises to power and unexpectedly wins the US presidential election. She fears for her own future, her son’s future and the entire nation’s future.

It’s also an unusual and arresting graphic format, with photographs as the backgrounds and lifelike drawn avatars of the characters in the foreground.

Extremely well done and highly recommended! 5 stars.
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LibraryThing member detailmuse
In this memoir, Mira Jacob explores her life and her awakening to the realities of being a person of color in the United States, alternating with her attempts to guide her mixed-race young son amid those same realities. The format is a series of several dozen conversations (“talks”), presented as comix with paperdoll-like characters over evocative photographic backgrounds of the relevant setting (various homes, big-city streets, outdoors).

I laughed out loud, I teared up. I felt turn-the-page suspense, discouragement, and the slightest hint of optimism. The book is readable in one sitting, but it’s not light material as Jacob develops the issues and powerfully immerses the reader in her experience. GOOD TALK is a very good book, and it’s an important book.
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LibraryThing member StefanieGeeks
There is so much to love about this memoir. Mira Jacob is of East Indian descent, raised in New Mexico, and has adopted New York as her home together with her Jewish husband. They have a young son who asks a lot of hilarious and perceptive questions, loving parents who can't relate, and a slew of other fascinating eclectic friends and family. Jacob has a beautiful way of connecting the audience to her personal stories. The graphics in the book are a perfect combination of black and white pencil comics and photographic backgrounds. This would be a great book club pick.… (more)
LibraryThing member Familyhistorian
All the LT warbling about "Good Talk" got me interested so I had to read it. It was a very personal and perceptive work about being considered “other” in America today. There were so many events and episodes that Jacob lived through like 911 and the aftermath and the recent US elections that she was experiencing as not just an American citizen but also through another layer of identity being a visible member of a minority. Trying to explain the meaning of things to her son really underlined how convoluted and scary their experience in America has been and will continue to be.… (more)
LibraryThing member villemezbrown
There is a lot of touching and insightful comments in here about race, families, September 11, and the elections of Donald Trump and Barack Obama. If the author had chosen to make this entirely prose or had had another artist draw it, I would probably have given it four stars. But instead, she chose to illustrate it herself in an extremely unfortunate and distracting style.

Effectively, she has made the book version of a YouTube video starring paper doll puppets on ice cream sticks. She literally draws most characters once, though some are drawn two or three times if they need to be children and adults in the narrative, then she just copies and pastes the same character images over and over in front of a different stock photo background and puts lots of word balloons over everything. The word balloons are great, mind you, but we are left with major emotional moments occurring in those balloons and faces that refuse to break from their neutral expressions. We have conversations between two characters that both stare directly out at the reader instead of making eye contact with each other. We're talking a half dozen or more pages in a row, again and again, with the same exact character images staring out at us as the background picture changes. OMG!

When Scott Meyer does this in his Basic Instruction cartoons, he does it to humorous effect, mocking himself. When Brian Michael Bendis does it in his superhero books, fans tend to groan and do the mocking for him. Here, it nearly ruins the book, as I constantly burst into laughter at the ridiculous contrast between word and image.

Still, the words are good enough that I like the book despite the illustrations.
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LibraryThing member TheLoisLevel
I really enjoyed this book. First, from a visual perspective, the background photography juxtaposed with the gray scale drawings of the characters is arresting. First, I love cityscapes, and second, since a lot of the plot centers on the meaning of being "brown" in the United States. The biggest weakness of this book is the ending. Current events just seem too raw to the author, and she hasn't been able to put them in perspective...and I'm saying this as someone who mostly agrees with her! I also have to say that the cover doesn't do justice to the work of art inside.… (more)
LibraryThing member LibrarianRyan
OMG! I now know why everyone was talking about this book and it was up on so many “best of” lists. It deserves to be there.

Mira takes the reader on a journey through her life. A journey of being East Indian, a dark East Indian, in a world that prefers lighter skin. However, we don’t just see her life, we join in her conversations and the complexities of explaining race relations to a child living in a Trump nation. It’s something that can’t be explained away, but must be lived through. The timeline jumps around, but I think that helps the story have more impact. It’s what she was thinking about as her son asks the hard questions.

This work is fabulously done. The illustrations over real pictures, the way one drawn image represents multiple people of one race. It helps illustrate how some people think all people of a certain skin tones look alike. This book way moving and powerful. I think in time it will become as important a work as Maus, or Persepolis. It’s a view into the mind of someone living in a time where many are blind to the actions of our government and the ones who run it.
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LibraryThing member JesseTheK
Outstanding: the collage of sketches against photographic backgrounds captures the importance of these conversations while grounding them in time and place. Jacob provides the visceral experience of pain, pleasure, triumph & despair of marginalized people in the USA in the last two decades.
LibraryThing member manadabomb
This graphic novel should be a must read for every white person out in the world. I listened to an episode of So Many Damn Books with Mira Jacob (episode 118) and she was funny, intelligent, and 100% engaging. She talked about how she cannot have conversations with her in-laws about politics because they voted and back Trump.

Mira is Indian. Her husband is white. Their cute kiddo is mixed race. You can see how having your in-laws supporting Trump can cause problems? Ah, but really you only think you understand.

Walk through this novel and you actually can see how hurtful this is. You can see how it feels to be pregnant and, while at an all white party, you are assumed to be the help instead of the daughter-in-law. Because....people with dark skin are always the help? No, they actually are not.

Mira shows us all the talks she has with her son, who is full of questions. She tries to navigate him through the 2016 election, what it means to be mixed race, why his dad doesn't hate him (dad is white = white people hate brown people), and more. It's a bit of a painful read if you let it be. And maybe you should let it be painful and really step into their shoes a bit.
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LibraryThing member quondame
Born in the USA, her parents from an India, but an ancient minority of Syrian Christians, Mira Jacobs articulates and illustrates for her son, herself, her family and luckily for us, her experience of being non-white in two cultures that value light skin over dark. The artwork isn't quite of the quality of the writing, but is effective and subversive in that all the white people look somehow incomplete - or slightly demented or both. This is strong, but even so, I suspect it's still the prettied up version.… (more)
LibraryThing member EBT1002
I finally obtained and got around to reading this magnificent graphic memoir, my favorite of the genre since Bechdel's Fun Home. Jacob uses photographs and static images along with drawn dialogue to tell her story "in conversations." An East Indian daughter of immigrants, she explores matters of race, immigration, marriage, friendship, and parenting -- all immersed in the landscape of our current political climate. The story made me laugh, shake my head in sorrow and in shame, and ultimately gave me the deep sense of satisfaction at having been given an unflinchingly honest insight into one woman's experience in post-9/11 America. I want to buy 50 copies and send them to every one I know. An absolute keeper.… (more)


Original language


Physical description

368 p.; 6.3 inches


039958904X / 9780399589041


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