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Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy Cityby Guy Delisle
Synopses & Reviews
“[Delisles books are] some of the most effective and fully realized travel writing out there.” —NPR
Acclaimed graphic memoirist Guy Delisle returns with his strongest work yet, a thoughtful and moving travelogue about life in Israel. Delisle and his family spent a year in East Jerusalem as part of his wifes work with the nongovernmental organization Doctors Without Borders. They were there for the short but brutal Gaza War, a three-week-long military strike that resulted in more than a thousand Palestinian deaths. In his interactions with the emergency medical team sent in by Doctors Without Borders, Delisle eloquently plumbs the depths of the conflict.
Some of the most moving moments in Jerusalem are the interactions between Delisle and Palestinian art students as they explain the motivations for their work. Interspersed with these simply told, affecting stories of suffering, Delisle deftly and often drolly recounts the quotidian: crossing checkpoints, going kosher for Passover, and befriending other stay-at-home dads with NGO-employed wives.
Jerusalem evinces Delisles renewed fascination with architecture and landscape as political and apolitical, with studies of highways, villages, and olive groves recurring alongside depictions of the newly erected West Bank Barrier and illegal Israeli settlements. His drawn line is both sensitive and fair, assuming nothing and drawing everything. Jerusalem showcases once more Delisles mastery of the travelogue.
"Delisle returns to his autobiographical travel format (Burma Chronicles; Pyongyang) with this engaging and troubling look at life in Jerusalem in 2008 and 2009 that won a gold medal for Best Graphic Albumat AngoulÃªme. With his wife, who works for Doctors Without Borders (Medecins sans FrontiÃ¨res, MSF), and their two young children, Delisle sees Jerusalem and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict with the eyes of an outsider. His experiences are recorded in vignettes that touch on such topics as the wall that separates Palestinian and Israeli territories, the problems of airport security, and the very different tours visitors receive depending on the perspective of their guides. Like MSF, Delisle's perspective tends heavily in favor of the Palestinians, particularly those killed in the bombings of Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, which took place during his year there. Delisle is not religious, and his lack of identification with any of the religions of Israel allows him to comment freely on all of them. With a more simplistic style than in Pyongyang, Delisle's use of less shading and starker line work highlights the very complex lives of Israelis, Palestinians, and foreign residents. Dascher's translation is fluid, and the colors by Delisle and Lucie Firoud are effective at setting off distinct scenes." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Neither Jewish nor Arab, Delisle explores Jerusalem and is able to observe this strange world with candidness and humor...But most of all, those stories convey what life in East Jerusalem is about for an expatriate."—Haaretz
"Engaging...[ Delisle] highlights the very complex lives of Israelis, Palestinians, and foreign residents."—Publishers Weekly Starred Review
Guy Delisle expertly lays the groundwork for a cultural road map of contemporary Jerusalem, utilizing the classic stranger in a strange land point of view that made his other books, Pyongyang, Shenzhen, and Burma Chronicles required reading for understanding what daily life is like in cities few are able to travel to. In Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City, Delisle explores the complexities of a city that represents so much to so many. He eloquently examines the impact of the conflict on the lives of people on both sides of the wall while drolly recounting the quotidian: checkpoints, traffic jams, and holidays.
When observing the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim populations that call Jerusalem home, Delisles drawn line is both sensitive and fair, assuming nothing and drawing everything. Jerusalem showcases once more Delisles mastery of the travelogue.
About the Author
Guy Delisle spent a decade working in animation in Europe and Asia. In 2008-2009, he accompanied his wife, an administrator for Doctors Without Borders, on a yearlong posting in Jerusalem. He lives in the south of France with his wife and children.
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