Jerusalem Chronicles from the Holy City

Guy Delisle

Book - 2012

"Delisle explores the complexities of a city that represents so much to so many. He eloquently examines the impact of the conflict on the lives of people on both sides of the wall while drolly recounting the quotidian: checkpoints, traffic jams, and holidays. When observing the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim populations that call Jerusalem home, Delisle's drawn line is both sensitive and fair, assuming nothing and drawing everything" --Paper band on book.

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Subjects
Genres
Graphic novels
Published
Montréal : New York : Drawn & Quarterly ; Distributed in the U.S. by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux 2012.
Language
English
French
Physical Description
336 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 22 cm
ISBN
9781770460713
1770460713
Main Author
Guy Delisle (-)
Other Authors
Helge Dascher, 1965- (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Delisle (Burma Chronicles, 2008) delivers a collection of vignettes and anecdotes culled from a year spent in the contentious holy city of Jerusalem with his wife—an administrator for Doctors Without Borders—and their two kids, Alice and Louis. He chronicles the broader political and religious tensions in the area (it would be impossible not to) but also focuses on the day-to-day nature of acclimating to a new city and culture, depicting the madcap adventures of getting the kids to and from school, the endless search for a good playground, and the difficulty of keeping the schedule straight of which days Jewish, Muslim, or Christian shops are open. His art is fun and reflects his animation roots, with characters able to convey reaction and emotion with nuance even without dialogue. The subtle use of color, mostly employed as washes or for emphasis, suits Delisle's linework well. Throughout his narrative, Delisle manages the deft trick of delivering humor, history, insight, and information without straying into preachy or reactionary territory. His role as an Everyman observer shines though in such a way that the entire book feels comfortably conversational: we are able to empathize with the expat feeling of being outside a culture, but we also see clearly how the human condition makes us all universally similar. On the whole, this beautiful book works as an unforgettable travelogue that delves deeply into finding connections and humanity in a routinely conflicted area, and is Delisle's best work yet. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

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. [Page 66]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Québécois artist-journalist Delisle (Pyongyang) spent 2008-09 with his family in East Jerusalem as part of his wife's work with Doctors Without Borders and was there during the short but brutal Gaza War. He interweaves accounts of suffering and interactions with the emergency medical teams with droll anecdotes of quotidian family life. This graphic memoir/travelogue will doubtless take a prominent place among the many other new titles covering events in the Middle East with sensitivity and from varied perspectives. See preview in French here (click on "Extraits"). - "Graphic Novels" LJ Reviews 1/19/2012 (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Delisle returns to his autobiographical travel format (Burma Chronicles; Pyongyang) with this engaging and troubling look at life in Jerusalem in 2008 and 2009 that won a gold medal for Best Graphic Albumat Angoulême. With his wife, who works for Doctors Without Borders (Medecins sans Frontières, MSF), and their two young children, Delisle sees Jerusalem and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict with the eyes of an outsider. His experiences are recorded in vignettes that touch on such topics as the wall that separates Palestinian and Israeli territories, the problems of airport security, and the very different tours visitors receive depending on the perspective of their guides. Like MSF, Delisle's perspective tends heavily in favor of the Palestinians, particularly those killed in the bombings of Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, which took place during his year there. Delisle is not religious, and his lack of identification with any of the religions of Israel allows him to comment freely on all of them. With a more simplistic style than in Pyongyang, Delisle's use of less shading and starker line work highlights the very complex lives of Israelis, Palestinians, and foreign residents. Dascher's translation is fluid, and the colors by Delisle and Lucie Firoud are effective at setting off distinct scenes. (Apr.) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A travelogue in graphic novel format about life in the Holy City serves as a cultural roadmap of the city's complexities and relevance while offering insight into the human impact of conflicts on both sides of the wall.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A latest graphic novel by the acclaimed creator of Pyongyang is a poignant travelogue about life in the Holy City that serves as a cultural roadmap of the city's complexities and relevance while offering insight into the human impact of conflicts on both sides of the wall.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"Delisle explores the complexities of a city that represents so much to so many. He eloquently examines the impact of the conflict on the lives of people on both sides of the wall while drolly recounting the quotidian: checkpoints, traffic jams, and holidays. When observing the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim populations that call Jerusalem home, Delisle's drawn line is both sensitive and fair, assuming nothing and drawing everything"--Paper band on book.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

"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


Guy Delisle expertly lays the groundwork for a cultural road map of contemporary Jerusalem, utilizing the classic stranger in a strange land point of view that made his other books, Pyongyang, Shenzhen, and Burma Chronicles required reading for understanding what daily life is like in cities few are able to travel to. In Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City, Delisle explores the complexities of a city that represents so much to so many. He eloquently examines the impact of the conflict on the lives of people on both sides of the wall while drolly recounting the quotidian: checkpoints, traffic jams, and holidays.

When observing the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim populations that call Jerusalem home, Delisle's drawn line is both sensitive and fair, assuming nothing and drawing everything. Jerusalem showcases once more Delisle's mastery of the travelogue.