Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China / Edition 1

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Overview

The follow-up graphic novel to the acclaimed Pyongyang: A Journey to North Korea

Shenzhen is entertainingly compact, with Guy Delisle's observations of life in a cold urban city in southern China that is sealed off from the rest of the country by electric fences and armed guards. With a dry wit and a clean line, Delisle makes the most of his time spent in Asia overseeing outsourced production for a French animation company. By translating his fish-out-of-water experiences into accessible graphic novels,Delisle is quick to find the humor and point out the differences between Western and Eastern cultures. Yet he never forgets to relay his compassion for the simple freedoms that escape his colleagues by virtue of living in a Communist state.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Pyongyang:

"[Delisle] cloaks his tale with a compassionate cynicism that cushions the bleak horrors of this totalitarian Lost in Translation. [Grade:] A-." —Entertainment Weekly

"Books like . . . Guy Delisle's Pyongyang—are held up not only as great literature but also as instructive guides to global conflict zones." —Newsweek

"Delisle has drawn an unforgettable picture of Pyongyang." —Time

Publishers Weekly
Last year's Pyongyang introduced Delisle's acute voice, as he reported from North Korea with unusual insight and wit, not to mention wonderfully detailed cartooning. Shenzhen is not a follow-up so much as another installment in what one hopes is an ongoing series of travelogues by this talented artist. Here he again finds himself working on an animated movie in a Communist country, this time in Shenzhen, an isolated city in southern China. Delisle not only takes readers through his daily routine, but also explores Chinese custom and geography, eloquently explaining the cultural differences city to city, company to company and person to person. He also goes into detail about the food and entertainment of the region as well as animation in general and his own career path. All of this is the result of his intense isolation for three months in an anonymous hotel room. He has little to do but ruminate on his surroundings, and readers are the lucky beneficiaries of his loneliness. As in his earlier work, Delisle draws in a gentle cartoon style: his observations are grounded in realism, but his figures are light cartoons, giving the book, as Delisle himself remarks, a feeling of an alternative Tintin. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A sharp eye for detail, self-deprecating humor and subtle, shadowy drawings highlight this engaging, ambitious graphic narrative. Though "graphic novel" has become the catch-all category for book-length comics aimed at adults, the genre continues to extend itself, encompassing everything from graphic fantasy to graphic memoir and diary to what Delisle (Pyongyang: A Journey to North Korea, 2005) here terms a graphic "travelogue." The artist makes no attempt to convince the reader to visit the Chinese city from which he couldn't wait to escape. As a Canadian native now based in France, Delisle is no stranger to cultural dislocation, yet he wasn't prepared for the strangeness and isolation he would feel when he traveled to China to direct a team of animators on a TV series. Within the workplace, the hotel and the restaurants he stumbles upon (where he proves far more open-minded and adventurous than many readers would be), Delisle runs into so many barriers that he ends up exploring is his own psychological state here. As he attempts to place his experience amid the industrial, impersonal Shenzhen within Dante's circles of hell, he underscores the value of the freedom he ultimately enjoys against the contrast of a city sealed by an electric fence, with armed guards in watchtowers. Even the techniques of animation become lost in translation, with standards slipping amid the crunch of deadlines, and no one seeming to care. The artist himself questions the value of sharing what he experienced during his stay in China, yet the Kafkaesque drawings that accompany his frequently droll narration are their own reward. Shenzhen may not be a nice place to live, but it's a provocative city to visit-ingraphic form, at least. While never preaching, this volume makes a forceful case for creative license and personal liberty, as the artist discovers that there's no place like home.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781894937795
  • Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
  • Publication date: 10/17/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 152
  • Product dimensions: 6.47 (w) x 8.77 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

GUY DELISLE spent the past year living in Burma. He has written four graphic novels in French; Shenzhen is his second translated into English. He was born in Quebec and lives in France.

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