Wednesday, 4 December 2013

So I Read Jerusalem: Chronicles From The Holy City

A 250 word (or less) review of the Jerusalem graphic novel 
by Guy Delisle, Drawn and Quarterly (English Edition)

Jerusalem is a hefty graphic novel depicting life in the Holy City, a place that is at once deeply sacred to three major religions while also being bitterly locked in a cycle of hopeless conflict. In the comic Guy Delisle, a Canadian-expat cartoonist, moves to the city with his partner, an administrator for Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), and their children move to East Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the real life story of their year living there depicted in an accessible and pleasantly minimalist cartoon style. Jerusalem (the comic) simultaneously functions as a travelogue highlighting the landmarks of the Holy City, a slice-of-life-biography showing the inanity of life in Jerusalem (negotiating roadblocks, navigating the complex religious/cultural matrix of the city, or finding just the perfect playground), and as a journalistic endeavour displaying the violence and injustice and complexity of the percolating conflict. Deslisle really makes the most of his partners MSF connections to gain some pretty remarkable access to and perspectives on the darker side of Jerusalem: it is, at times, a crushing and heady comic. That said, Deslisle is a pretty charming character and has a deliciously wry sense of humour, which really balances out the darker realities of Jerusalem. Actually, the balance this comic strikes between humorous inanity, wonder, and the depressing crush of intractable injustice  I think maybe gets at the... existential insanity of life in Jerusalem. It's a pretty great read and, I think, a pretty fantastic airplane comic.

Word count: 243

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