“Delisle, a former animator, has a knack for visual shorthand ... and for drawing environments: religious shrines and settlements, but also grocery stores, playgrounds and checkpoints -- lots of checkpoints. 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.” Douglas Wolk, The New York Times
“[Jerusalem] is a small miracle: concise, even-handed, highly particular.” Rachel Cooke, The Guardian
“The tone of [Jerusalem] is by turns gently humorous and dumbfounded. His drawing style... suits his brisk, snapshot approach.” Financial Times
“Neither Jewish nor Arab, Delisle explores Jerusalem and is able to observe this strange world with candidness and humor...But most of all, those stories convey what life in East Jerusalem is about for an expatriate.” Haaretz
“Engaging...[ Delisle] highlights the very complex lives of Israelis, Palestinians, and foreign residents.” Publishers Weekly Starred Review
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.
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