The King of Nothing

Authored by Guridi
Illustrated by Guridi
Published by New York Review of Books

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The King of Nothing, King Mimo the First is the mightiest of leaders and is completely unrufflable. Or is he?

The King of Nothing loves his enormous castle, his mighty kingdom, his vast army of soldiers, his many horses, the placid nature of his life, the lack of surprise. Moreover, he loves the sense of control that he feels as he rides out to survey his kingdom each day. He loves showing his people how great he is. Suddenly, one day, he finds a small SOMETHING. This completely upsets him. Enraged, he blames witchcraft and demons and orders his soldiers to capture it. However, they are far too scared, so he picks it up himself and casts it into the deepest dungeon. And then he feels a bit safer. Time passes. The knowledge that there is SOMETHING in his dungeon causes him to have strange dreams. Therefore he decides to pay a visit to the dungeon and show that SOMETHING that he has no fear.

Guiridi is a genius because how on earth can anyone illustrate a kingdom of nothing? Yet he has done it superbly with faint, broken lines, and vague outlines and ingenious use of ephemeral detail. The King himself is an insubstantial little peanut who makes himself look important by shouting in single syllables using an all capital font. I don’t want to provide a spoiler, but the only real colour and definition in the illustrations is the SOMETHING. There is much to discuss and to ponder here. This is a deeply philosophical book that deserves a place in every classroom.