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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

SPOTLIGHT: “American Widow” by Alissa Torres, Illustrated by Sungyoon Choi

Official Sungyoon Choi Website
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Read Publishers Weekly Article HERE

American Widow” by Alissa Torres, Illustrated by Sungyoon Choi. Release Date: September 9, 2008. Published by Villard Books.

It was love at first sight for Alissa and Eddie Torres when they met in New York City in August of 1998. Within eight months, their whirlwind relationship led to marriage, a new house, and pregnancy. Eddie had come to the United States from Colombia as an illegal immigrant in 1995 and worked his way from a series of jobs in the garment district to become a high-paid currency broker. Eventually Eddie landed his dream job at Cantor-Fitzgerald in the World Trade Center. His first day of work was September 10, 2001.

Suddenly, Alissa was cast in the role of a “9/11 widow.” Seven and a half months pregnant and forced to deal with unimaginable challenges, she found herself tossed into a storm of bureaucracy, politics, patriotism, mourning, and new motherhood. Writing was Alissa’s way through the pain and “American Widow” is the very personal story of how she endured a very public tragedy.

Much of what Americans remember about 9/11 are the images—billowing plumes of smoke, flags lining the streets, signs for the missing posting on every available surface—and as she grieved, Alissa realized that this most graphic event needed the intimacy of a graphic telling. Beautifully and thoughtfully illustrated by Sungyoon Choi, “American Widow” is the affecting account of one woman’s journey through shock, pain, birth, and rebirth in the aftermath of a great tragedy. It is also the story of a young couple’s love affair: how a Colombian immigrant and a strong-minded New Yorker met, fell in love, and struggled to fulfill their dreams. Above all, American Widow is a tribute to the resilience of the human heart, the very personal story of how one woman endured a very public tragedy, and a universal message of hope and redemption about how Alissa took hold of the forces—and images—around her to set off toward a brighter future…

About Alissa Torres:

Alissa Torres is the widow of Luis Eduardo Torres, known to his loved ones as Eddie Torres. Eddie died at age thirty-one on September 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center, North Tower, on his second day of work at Cantor Fitzgerald. At the time, Alissa was seven and a half months pregnant with their son Joshua Eduardo Torres, who was born in October 2001.

After her husband died, Alissa Torres wrote through her grief. She kept journals and published seven personal essays on Salon and one in Redbook magazine. On 2007, Alissa won a State Farm Embrace Life Award, given to widows who inspire others with their achievements. Prior to September 11, 2001, Alissa worked as an instructional designer for the New York City Department for the Aging. “American Widow” is her first book.

About Sungyoon Choi:

Sungyoon Choi is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York City and has produced short comics as well as illustrations for The New York Times.


This deeply personal book is at times raw, angry, bleak and lyrical…[a] heartfelt look at the universality in one woman’s loss.” —
Publishers Weekly

An emotionally charged visual document that doesn’t pave over the ambivalence and complexity of life’s mixed messages. Torres and Choi’s approach to comics, like Torres’ approach to life, is filled with twists, turns, and unexpected revelations.” —
Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics

A moving story that you can’t stop reading. As a bonus, Choi’s illustrations move the story.” —
Harvey Pekar, author of American Splendor

NOTE: I only just received “American Widow” from
Villard Books and I am very happy that I was able to experience Alissa Torres’ inspirational graphic novel memoir. Incredibly poignant, punctuated by simple yet arresting artwork, “American Widow” will move anyone who has a heart. And don’t be surprised if the graphic novel is one day adapted into a film or if it wins a few awards. Highly recommended…


Elaine Williams said...

This sounds very moving. I will look for it. Elaine Williams, widow four years.

Robert said...

Thanks for sharing Elaine. I hope you enjoy the book :)

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