The Fixer: A Story From Sarajevo

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Overview

INVESTIGATING THE PEACE. When bombs are falling and western journalism is the only game left in town "fixers" are the people who sell war correspondents the human tragedy and moral outrage that makes news editors happy. American Book Award-winning comix-journalist Joe Sacco introduces us to his own fixer; a man looking to squeeze the last bit of profit from Bosnia before the reconstruction begins. Thanks to the fixer Sacco uncovers the story of warlords and gangsters running the countryside in wartime. Ten years later Sacco returns to Bosnia to look for his fixer. What he finds makes him wonder, who won the war? And who won the peace?
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Editorial Reviews

The Village Voice
This shorter, darker book concentrates on Neven and his stories -- which Sacco notes he can't always believe -- but puts them in the keenly observed (and drawn) context of smashed-up post-war Bosnia, the brutal territorialism of its local warlords, and old and young Sarajevans hustling to get by .
The Washington Post
Sacco's black-and-white artwork reflects this brutality with its realism and its attention to detail. In a box with the headline "Yugoslavia is disintegrating," a group of soldiers runs down the road with guns and a stolen television. In the bottom of the frame lies a woman, face down, visible only from her feet to her knees, underwear around her ankles. — Jessa Crispin
Publishers Weekly
Intrepid reporter and comics artist Sacco returns to Bosnia and Sarajevo to chronicle Neven, a "fixer" who leads Western reporters to stories, dispensing information and literally guiding them through the fascinating, dangerous landscape of post-war Sarajevo and Bosnia. Neven worked for Sacco (Safe Area Gorazde) when he wrote his previous book about the Bosnian war. Initially suspicious of him, Sacco gradually realized Neven's own story-a microcosm of the Balkan conflict itself-may be the most compelling story of all. A native Sarajevan, Neven watched as rebel Serb nationalists armed themselves against an unarmed multi-ethnic Sarajevo and Bosnian Republic. Neven eventually fought to defend Sarajevo as his city was torn apart. He joined criminal gangs, thieves and borderline sociopaths-warlords who often defied the government-who ultimately took up the call to defend the Bosnian Republic. Wounded in combat, Neven became a fixer but was intimately involved-as a legitimate soldier, guerilla irregular and victimized citizen-in every aspect of the bloody conflict. He's really selling Sacco his own story ("Can you imagine the sort of movie that could be made about bastards like me?"), and Sacco marvelously weaves in his own feelings of uneasiness and awe at his guide's grim life story. The tightly wound, humane and suspenseful nonfiction graphic novella employs visual devices-e.g., the haunted, unreliable protagonist, obscured by shadow and cigarette smoke-from the best traditions of film noir. Sacco's finely wrought, expressively rendered b&w drawings perfectly capture the emotional character of Sarajevo and the people who struggle to live there. This superlative and important story is easily one of the best comics nonfiction works of the year. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This is cartoonist and war journalist Sacco's follow-up to the masterpiece Safe Area Gorazde, which recounted a siege on a Bosnian town by Serbian nationalists during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. Returning to that conflict, Sacco relocates to Sarajevo and introduces Neven, a "fixer" who sells information to foreign journalists. Neven tells Sacco about a trio of gangsters seen as heroes for leading paramilitary defenders of Sarajevo against the Serbs but who reputedly committed atrocities. Sacco investigates while providing a complex character portrait of Neven, a Serb with a shady past who sided against the Serbian nationalists and fought them as a paramilitary sniper, killing men and being wounded in combat. His art combines detailed, realistic background with somewhat more cartoony figures; there is explicit violence, of course. Though not as powerful as his first book, this is a worthy addition to Sacco's oeuvre. For all adult collections. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Sacco's second graphic novel set in Bosnia and Sarajevo follows the author's real-life relationship with Neven, a "fixer"-one who, for cash, leads foreign journalists through the fragmented postwar landscape and sniffs out the grittiest "underground" news stories for them. Film noir conventions prevail in the black-and-white art and story-the shifty, unreliable narrator speaks amid the shadows and smoke-and the ambience is one that teens will find seductive. Neven's tales of his days as both a legitimate soldier and a guerilla gang member are interesting; even more compelling are his descriptions of the ways in which certain ruthless, sociopathic fighters became, bizarrely, bubblegum idols, their looks fantasized over and their deeds lauded in pop songs. The story is told in fragments, flashbacks, and flashforwards; what readers will gain is less a "practical" knowledge of the war and its aftermath and more a deep, realistic, and dizzying sense of the time. The book was not created with promoting "war awareness" as a primary goal, which is probably what makes it so realistic. War is not clear-cut and easily described in a narrative with a traditional beginning, middle, and end. It is full of jagged edges, and, while not difficult to follow, The Fixer, accordingly, reads like the equivalent of a roomful of broken mirrors. It will leave teens feeling stunned, intrigued, and changed.-Emily Lloyd, formerly at Rehoboth Beach Public Library, DE Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781896597607
  • Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
  • Publication date: 12/1/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 140
  • Product dimensions: 7.60 (w) x 11.26 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Joe Sacco was born in Malta in 1960. Raised in the USA, Sacco graduated with a degree in journalism at the University of Oregon in 1981. For almost twenty years Joe has been a journalist/cartoonist/editor. He is also a consummate traveler, always on the move following stories, especially in Europe and the Middle East.

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