Art and Writing by Joe Sacco
Publisher: jonathan Cape
Publisher: jonathan Cape
What's it about?
Joe Sacco is a Jewish American journalist who in the early 1990s spent two months in Israel and Palestine, meeting and interviewing people the people living there. The results of these conversations and experiences have been turned into this book.
The book is split into nine chapters, which are in turn split into subsections titled:
Cairo, Taxi, A Thousand Words, The Tough and the Dead, Women, Ramallah, Law, Jabalia, Handicapped, Moderate Pressure and more.
What's good about it?
The comic book medium seems to sort Sacco's style of storytelling well. As you read through the book the visual nature of it provides an emotional impact that you would be unlikely to be able to replicate in prose.
From a feminist perspective, Sacco does include a section on women's live in Palestine, but doesn't just relegate the women to this small part. He talks to all different types of people throughout the book, old and young, employed and unemployed, able bodied and disabled, men and women. This gives us what seems to be a well rounded perspective on Palestinians lives. I say 'seems' because this is the only book I've read about Palestine. Perhaps Sacco has missed out important areas, but to me it seems pretty thorough.
The book never explicitly condemns Israel for it's treatment of the Palestinians. Instead Sacco provides us with the facts and lets us reach our own conclusions. I feel that this is a far more effective method of engaging with readers. In addition to this, although the book is centred around the Palestinian experience; we do read about Israeli people's lives, their feelings towards the conflict and we discover some of the historical events that have shaped Israel. This reader came away with the impression that most Israelis don't really understand what life is like on the West Bank or how the government creates so many obstacles for living when Palestinian.
What's bad about it?
This probably shouldn't be considered a beginners guide to the conflict. Although there is some historical background it is assumed that the reader will know something about the settlements and occupation.
What's the art like?
Sacco is an accomplished cartoonist who can portray a wide range of emotions. He can tell stories without using words and he draws (no pun intended) you into the page, forcing you to engage with the realities of his interviewees lives.
Price: £14.99, but currently £8.98 on Amazon.
Look inside the book here.
Sacco has written a number of other books including Footnotes in Gaza, Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia 1992-95, Notes from a Defeatist and more. Amazon's website lists them all.