Monday, November 26, 2012

A Graphic World

When I read Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, I renewed my enthusiasm for graphic stories, born years ago with Superman and Lois Lane comic books. Persepolis told a story that managed to be intimately personal and wide world political at the same time. I picked up A Game for Swallows by Zeina Abirached because the artistic style and Middle East setting reminded me a lot of Persepolis. The drawings are black and white, spare and bold, but always capturing the essential details to tell the story. The novel, based on the author's memories, tells the story of a small group of dwellers in a single apartment building in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war in the 1980s. There is only one room in the apartment building that is safe from the destructive shelling that has turned the city into a crumbling war zone. Two children are left by their parents for a short period of time and in that time the residents of the building slowly filter in to the protection of the room and to be with the children. We get to know their stories and how the war has changed their lives so dramatically. Although you could call this a historical graphic novel, the focus is not on how and why the war happened. Rather this is a personal story. Read it for the masterful clear line graphics and simple story and you will find yourself feeling affection and hope for all the characters.

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