The Dust of the Ancestors

After 20 years absence, museum guard Eusebio returns to his old home town in the Mexican backcountry, his mind set on finally making peace with the Rojas family. None of his old friends from that family are alive anymore. Only for this one day, the Day of the Dead, they come back from the Great Beyond to celebrate with the living. But ghosts of the past are reawakened by news of the tragic death of little Benito Rojas and these ghosts will soon force Eusebio to run away again. He tries to convey comfort to Benito’s mother through a letter: Eusebio is firmly convinced that the dead continue to exist and that they will only crumble into dust if they fade into oblivion.

Created in homage to the Mexican muralists, 'The Dust of the Ancestors' is a work in which the (hi)story is told mainly through the illustrations. Almost in passing, the book also offers insight into the rituals and traditions on the "Day of the Dead" and introduces the reader to a culture that does not treat death as a taboo but rather assigns it a proper place in everyday life. This is a culture that celebrates death and makes skeletons dance. (from the covertext)

Testimonials

With an incredible journey into a vision of Mexico, in which literally the ghosts of the past mingle with the living, Pestemer salutes Mexico’s muralists as well as the country's traditions. A reflection on a unique way of comprehending and respecting death and mortality.
(Leticia Blanco, El Mundo (Madrid/Barcelona)


"With 'The Dust of the Ancestors', Felix Pestemer has created a sophisticated, powerful book, which narrates stories of death and remembrance without ever drifting into gloom."

(Andreas Hartung, Der Tagesspiegel)


In terms of style, Pestemer’s novel evokes a comic book tradition, but it is far more than that.

His narrative of the Rojas family is a keenly observed documentation of Mexican tradition – full of images alive with detail with an irrepressible sense of humor.
(Pamela de Filippo, Hessische Allgemeine)

"The main strengths of 'The Dust of the Ancestors' are the graphic elements. With the arrangement of the panels, from classic segmentation to double-page images, the Berliner-by-choice Pestemer makes use of the whole variety of options available to comic book artists. And a topic that in Germany often causes unease more than anything else is fully addressed: Death is a part of life. It is the knowledge of how to remember that is taking the sting out of death - it just happens that in our country this knowledge has mostly been buried."
(Markus Lippold, n-tv)

"Felix Pestemer is a good narrator and an excellent colorist with a keen sense for details. Lavish compositions are his strength, the arrangement of material objects in particular. Building on profound research on the topic, the illustrator and author has succeeded in creating an autonomous docufiction full of empathy and irony - as well as, and not least of all, an extraordinary contribution to intercultural communication."
(Andreas Rauth, Jitter Magazin)


With 'The Dust of the Ancestors', Pestemer has created a parallel reality of the dead, in which household chores, romance, disputes and even homework constitute the daily routine of the deceased, not forgetting a dance of death.

(Tanja Laninger, Berliner Morgenpost)

Reading excerpt: