Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City

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Overview

“[Delisle’s 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 wife’s 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 ...

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Overview

“[Delisle’s 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 wife’s 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 Delisle’s 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 Delisle’s mastery of the travelogue.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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 Angoulême. With his wife, who works for Doctors Without Borders (Medecins sans Frontières, 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. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Delisle's (Burma Chronicles; Pyongyang) year in Jerusalem stemmed from wife Nadège's assignment with Doctors Without Borders. Yet Jerusalem, he learns, is all about borders. Its exclusively Israeli or Palestinian communities and many religious microcommunities crosscut the city, and the civic, military, and in-group rules about who goes where are constantly shifting. The result is daily disruption for everyone, with more dangerous disruptions from violence like the Gaza War (known in Israel as Operation Cast Lead) that punctuated Delisle's stay. Yet a façade of normalcy fronts this teetering society where finding a convenient café or children's playground becomes a personal triumph seemingly as newsworthy as the latest Israeli/Palestinian dust-up. Writing as an uninvolved outsider, Delisle finds himself nonetheless developing a sensibility to the city; at one point he wryly observes, "Thanks, God, for making me an atheist." The simple-seeming art is black/gray wash with moody color enhancements. VERDICT An odd combination of chummy and chilling, Delisle's Angoulême award-winning chronicle of family life in uneasy circumstances brings a new perspective to a distinguished roster of Levant-based graphic novels, e.g., by Joe Sacco, Rutu Modan, and Sarah Glidden. Recommended for adults interested in the geographical or religious issues involved and fine for most teens.—M.C.
Douglas Wolk
Delisle, a former animator, has a knack for visual shorthand…and for drawing environments…The cultural and physical barriers among the Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities in and around Jerusalem, and the compromises and work-arounds the city's residents have been forced to devise, become the source of dark but gentle comedy: absurdity teetering on the edge of tragedy.
—The New York Times Book Review
From the Publisher
“The cultural and physical barriers among the Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities become the source of dark but gentle comedy: absurdity teetering on the edge of tragedy.” —The New York Times

“The tone of [Jerusalem] is by turns gently humorous and dumbfounded. His drawing style . . . suits his brisk, snapshot approach.” —Financial Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781770460713
  • Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
  • Publication date: 4/24/2012
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 346,868
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet 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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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 26, 2014

    Superb!

    Great sketches, interesting perspective, and overall well done. Delisle gives an outsider's glimpse inside the religious and ethnic tensions as well as just plain, everyday life in the Holy City and surrounding area. Highly recommended!

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