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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Palestine: The Special Edition (graphic novel) by Joe Sacco

An important piece of "comic book journalism"

Published in 2007 by Fantagraphics books.
320 pages.

Joe Sacco headed off to to the Palestinian refugee camps with a few bucks in his pocket, a sketchpad, a little training in how to draw comic books, a rarely used camera (film was too expensive) and a curious mind. Sacco interviewed Palestinians and asked them about all sorts of aspects of their lives: jobs, the intifada, women's rights, Land for Peace, and much more. Sacco turned those interviews into this graphic novel (although Sacco does not like that term much - instead he prefers "comic book journalist").

Joe Sacco (self-portrait)
There is no traditional narrative to this book. Sacco does not turn these interviews into a large over-arching history of the Palestininan people. Instead, it is like reading a series of illustrated interviews. This gives the reader the feeling that he or she is there sitting right there with Sacco talking and drinking green tea in the camps. In a way, the story would be better if he had tried to make an illustrated history, but, in the end, I think this is a more powerful presentation. Imagine "based on real events" movie vs. a documentary and you get the idea.

Sacco occasional touches on the topic of who is right and who is wrong in this book. It does carry a pro-Palestinian slant (it was designed to be that way - I have no idea where Sacco's real sympathies lie), but it does not hammer on those issues.

Not a fun book, but an important one. Strongly recommended for anyone interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, no matter which side you come down on.

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Palestine: The Special Edition

Reviewed on February 2, 2008.

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