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The Burma Chronicles

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A timely and incisive portrait of a country on the tipping point

After developing his acclaimed style of firsthand reporting with his bestselling graphic novels Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea and Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China, Guy Delisle is back with The Burma Chronicles. In this country notorious for its use of concealment and isolation as social control—where scissors-wielding censors monitor the papers, the de facto leader of the opposition has been under ...

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Overview

A timely and incisive portrait of a country on the tipping point

After developing his acclaimed style of firsthand reporting with his bestselling graphic novels Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea and Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China, Guy Delisle is back with The Burma Chronicles. In this country notorious for its use of concealment and isolation as social control—where scissors-wielding censors monitor the papers, the de facto leader of the opposition has been under decade-long house arrest, insurgent-controlled regions are effectively cut off from the world, and rumor is the most reliable source of current information—he turns his gaze to the everyday for a sense of the big picture.

Delisle’s deft and recognizable renderings take note of almsgiving rituals, daylong power outages, and rampant heroin use in outlying regions, in this place where catastrophic mismanagement and ironhanded rule come up against profound resilience of spirit, expatriate life ambles along, and nongovernmental organizations struggle with the risk of co-option by the military junta. The Burma Chronicles is drawn with a minimal line, and interspersed with wordless vignettes and moments of Delisle’s distinctive slapstick humor.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Guy Delisle:

“Like last year’s Pyongyang . . . Shenzhen is a casual, dryly witty series of observations . . . A thoroughly engaging memoir.” —The New York Times Book Review

Publishers Weekly

DeLisle's (Pyongyang) latest exploration of Asian life is probably the best possible argument against the ruling junta in the embattled (and now nearly obliterated) nation also known as Myanmar. Readers will find themselves initially shocked and surprised at the country's differences, then awestruck by the new traditions and finally in love with and yet enraged by Burmese daily life. DeLisle's wife is a French aid worker with Medecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), leaving DeLisle alone with their son, Louis, and his cartooning. DeLisle's style is simple but highly eloquent, and he tells more about the depth and breadth of the Burmese experience in the book's little nonfiction vignettes than he ever could in an artificially imposed narrative. Burma Chronicles is not merely a neat piece of cartooning but a valuable artifact of a repressive and highly destructive culture that curtails free speech with unparalleled tenacity. Like Joe Sacco's The Fixer and Safe Area Gorazde, DeLisle uses cartooning to dig into a story that demands to be told. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Insightful, illuminating memoir of a year under a totalitarian regime. In 2005-06, Delisle (Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China, 2006, etc.) accompanied his wife, who works as an administrator for Doctors Without Borders, to the country recognized by the United Nations as Myanmar. The United States and other democratic countries, however, still call it Burma, refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the military junta that seized power in 1989. As in the illustrator's previous adventures in China and North Korea (Pyongyang, 2005), the focus is less on politics and more on the lives of the people he encounters-though such lives are profoundly shaped by politics. He comes to accept checkpoints and censorship as routine, and he does his best to find a suitable home, survive with intermittent electricity and Internet access and take care of his toddler son Louis, whose charm transcends cultural borders. The author also fears malaria, bird flu and poisonous snakes, though the DWB medical community provides more comfort than much of the Burmese citizenry enjoys. Delisle writes and illustrates a children's booklet on HIV, an important contribution to a country in which heroin and prostitution are rampant. As in previous volumes, his eye for everyday detail combined with droll, matter-of-fact narration humanizes his 14-month experience in a country that might seem traumatic, even intolerable, in other hands. "There were no demands and no uprisings either," he writes. "Things are always very calm here, thanks to a regime that creates paralysis by fomenting fear on a daily basis." The undercurrents of Buddhism throughout the book culminate in his visit to a temple, where his meditation provestransformative. Though classified as a graphic novelist, Delisle has claimed territory all his own as a graphic-travel memoirist.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781897299500
  • Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
  • Publication date: 9/16/2008
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Born in Quebec City in 1966, GUY DELISLE spent a decade working in animation in Europe and Asia. In 2005–2006, he accompanied his wife, an administrator for Doctors Without Borders, on a fourteen-month posting in Burma.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent Travelogue

    Cartoonist Delisle accompanies his doctor wife to Burma, where he spends a year exploring and attempting to understand its people and culture. Through a serious of loosely chronological vignettes, we see Burma through his eyes. It is a land of stark contradictions: oppression and totalitarianism, beauty and deep spirituality, technological progress and stagnation. It will make you angry, but also make you laugh and smile.

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