9 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Andrew C Wheeler
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Everyone has their niche, their two inches of ivory that they work over so closely with a fine-haired brush. Some niches are larger than others -- project manager, superhero artist, war apologist, social novelist -- but they all bind, more or less, around the edges. Some artists fight against that niche, and some embrace it.
Guy Delisle is a cartoonist -- originally Canadian, though resident in France for some time -- whose niche is creating books about the strange foreign cities he finds himself living and working in. First was Shenzhen, about time spent working as an animation supervisor in that Chinese city. Then came Pyongyang, in which the same job took him to that very odd, constricted North Korean capital. And then there was Burma Chronicles, by which point Delisle had transitioned to a full-time long-form cartoonist, and was accompanying his partner (a Médecins Sans Frontières administrator) to the capital of the country that wants the rest of us to call it Myanmar. (Somewhere in between, he also published two books of unsettling, mostly sex-role related cartoons -- Aline and the Others and Albert and the Others.)
Delisle's work typically has a crisp, clean line -- as one would expect from an animator working in France -- with a good eye for detail and enough description and narration to allow the drawing to be simple; he doesn't try to cram everything into either words or art.
Recently, Delisle's wife was posted by MSF to Israel for a year, and so, eventually, that experience turned itself into his most recent book, JERUSALEM. It's larger and more diffuse than those previous books, over 300 pages long, and filled with lots of small stories about Delisle's and his family's life in a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem. (And that location is the first manifestation of what will be a major concern of Jerusalem: borders, both physical and mental, and how they interleave themselves, through walls and checkpoints and bus routes and roads and prejudices.)
JERUSALEM doesn't grapple directly with the legitimacy of the Israeli state, or of its treatment of Palestinians (or, conversely, with the actions of Palestinians and others against Israel), making it feel a bit politically naive at times. (Reading it in tandem with Sarah Glidden's How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less -- see my review -- would be interesting; Glidden was in Israel for a short time, on a tour, specifically as a tourist on a heritage tour designed to make her intensely pro-Israel, and intensively questioned the Palestinian situation, while Delisle lived in Israel for a year, mostly among vaguely pro-Palestinian expatriates, and lives the physical discomfort of the occupation without engaging with it on a theoretical level.)
Delisle's job -- besides writing books like JERUSALEM -- is a house-husband; he had two small children during that year, and just taking care of small children (even if they are in day-care part of the time) is massively time-consuming in ways that it's hard to describe. When you wake up with a toddler, you get through the day somehow, and then wonder, at the end, what you actually did during the last sixteen hours. So Delisle isn't as free to move around this year as he was in Shenzhen and Pyongyang -- but, then again, those were shorter trips, so he had more time to immerse himself in Jerusalem (and, before that, in Burma), more time to live in those places rather than just passing through them.
JERUSALEM is a discursive, rambling book, equally about daily life as an expatriate in East Jerusalem and the physical problems of just moving around so militarized and controlled a country  as it is about Delisle's continuing attempts to sketch and draw and work on his cartoons when he has time away from his young children. It's a long, looping story, circling back to those same few concerns -- time to sketch, physical access, which day things will be open -- and is more obsessed with time (the right day, the right time of day, enough time to do something while the kids are in day-care) than one would expect. Throughout, Delisle is an interesting and thoughtful guide to Israel, showing us the things he did and saw and thought, and what it was like to live in that place for that time. I expect some people will be unhappy at Delisle's take on the Israel-Palestine situation -- people on either end of that argument, because as much as he engages with it, he's somewhere in the middle -- but that's an occupational hazard when you create books about your time in odd, contested, unlikely places. Delisle is always honest, and shows us what he sees and feels: you can't ask for more than that.
 His partner was posted in Gaza for most of this trip, and the one crossing into Gaza is more tightly controlled than any other gate in Israel.
24 internautes sur 31 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Delisle provides an illustration of the conflict between Israel and Palestine that is very accessible to the average person. While I read various newspapers and consider myself to be aware of current events in Israel, I never fully understood the role of the settlers, Arabs, Israelis, ultra-orthodox Jews, etc. as well as I now do after reading Delisle's Jerusalem.
While this is certainly partially a travelogue, Delisle does a wonderful job with the rhythm of telling his story of his time there. This does not read as just a reporting of what happened, but has a beginning, middle and end. The art is simple and beautiful, conveying a sense of feeling of place.
Delisle's style in storytelling through words and images offers a light touch to very heavy subjects. As I read the work, I felt that he was as unbiased of a person that you're going to come across on these issues. He is delicate, but not afraid to present details about what he observes. I also appreciated his humor regarding the challenges of his time there, such as finding playgrounds for his young children and other ways of entertaining them.
9 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I have been reading many books about the Arab/Israeli conflicts including by Tom Segev and Jimmy Carter. Each book and author does tend to have his slant. One option is to buy Side by Side: Parallel Histories of Israel-Palestine, which gives parallel accounts from the Arab and the Israeli perspectives, on facing pages. I don't mind reading books tht have a slant. In fact I often seek books that have the opposite slant as myself, so that I can understand more clearly views that oppose my own.
Mira said in the 2-star review, that this book Jerusalem by Guy Delisle was so slanted, that she grew to distrust the author. I disagree with Miras statement, because even though I see the slant, I feel Delisle is a trustworthy author. But even if he was so slanted as to be not trustworthy, readers would still gain much from reading his book because they would see many examples of settlers and the wall and Jews workig around Sabbath Law like elevators that stop on every floor so they don't have to push any buttons on a Saturday. Seeing these slanted perspectives then puts the burden onto those writers who could explain or defend the meaning and purpose of these examples. I would ask Mira then, fine, and please provide us with other books that would explain for us the meaning and purpose of the settlements, the wall, the elevator programming, and so forth. I voted Mira's review as yes, helpful, because I believe we gain from seeing the range of reactions and hearing different perspectives.
I want to have empathy for all people, and Jesrusalem definitely gave me empathy for displaced and oppressed Palestinians. The subdued colors and humble dawings, the humble-looking self-character who reveals his own grumpiness, greatly increases the empathy I felt. I could not put this book down. This is after quitting the beautifully drawn Habibi and Blankets without finishing.
What we need now is for another graphic artist to give us a book that helps us to see the other side, to have empathy for the settlers, the Israeli soldiers, the Zionists, the religious Jews, Muslims, and Christians who have such odd, difficult to justify idiosyncrasies. Because Delisle doesn't just shine his journalistic light on Jewish customs but also those of the other religions present in Jerusalem, like the door man at the Muslim mosque who wouldn't let him in even though the building was offcially open for tourists, because he couldn't recite the Muslim prayer in Arabic. If Delisle's book is so slanted, let's see alternative books that show us the other perspectives.
Here are some different perspectives I gained from this book: On page 65 we read he (or the character Guy Delisle) is at a party where a Doctors Without Borders psychologist tells him:
"You see, people who were battered as kids are likely to batter their own kids in turn... So we thought: maybe the same pattern applies to entire populations? Maybe Jews in Isrel are subjecting another group to the suffering they've experienced for generations, like battered kids."
This theme is subtly escalated later, visually, where we see drawings of "Arbeit Macht Frei" grafitti on the Wall, and the Star of David painted on the doors of settler's homes in Hebron, which Delisle says reminds him of 1930's Germany.
On page 117, Delisle is shown conversing with a Doctors Without Borders driver who says:
"(Settlers) don't need to work. They get plenty of money from American Jews through tax-deductible donations. Evangelical Christians support them as well."
Delisle replies, "Christians give money to fund Jewish settlers?"
"Some fundamentalists do. They believe the world's Jews need to come back and occuy all of the promised land, including Palestine, before Jesus can return to earth."
If Delisle were making this up, I would be skeptical. However, the same detail was shared in Garry Wills' book, Head and Heart: A History of Christianity in America in his chapter on Israel. Wills wrote that in the late 19th Century, Evangelical Christians began supporting the Zionist movement (even those preachers who wrote anti-semetic pamphlets) because they believed that Jews occupying Israel was a necessary step to the return of Jesus on Judgment Day, which they hoped was coming soon. I am not saying I believe or agree with either author, I am only pointing out that it is being written by two different authors writing about different periods and populations with different evidence..
One element that makes Delisle seem trustworthy is that he goes on two tours of Hebron, the first one given by an Anti-Settlement group, called "Breaking the Silence," p 281-286. At the end of this tour the group leader recommends people also take the same tour given by a Pro-Settlement group (which is a very open-minded gesture, I feel). So Delisle and his wife later attend the tour again from the Pro-Settlement group, p. 305-312, and the opposite perspective is given by their tour guide who is a Settler. The character Delisle is obviously skeptical during the second tour, which is a slanted representation, but still we must credit him for depicting both perspectives. In the second tour we learn that the tour guide actively encourages people from other countries to move to Israel, to move into the settlements, and many of the tourists who are Jewish are moved to tears. In fact this is one place in the book where Delisle does in fact depict the suffering that Jews have been through at the hands of Arabs, pro-wall, pro-settlement views and their justifications. It's just that the Delisle character within the book is making sarcastic comments quietly to his wife during this tour. Perhaps this is the author revealing to the reader that he knows he has a slanted view? Is he being vulnerable? Or is this extreme subtlety designed to make readers like me feel that the narrator must be trustworthy, to further his view? Either way it is fascinating to read and see.
So overall I feel that much information and perspective is being brought to the public's attention through Delisle's book. Even if the view is slanted, the sharing of details is a good thing especially if it stimulates intelligent discussion about these components of the struggle, and hopefully wise decision making.
Another graphic novel covering these issues is How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less. by Sarah Glidden.
We learn much from reading both sides of issues, especially by reading those we disagree with.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Guy Delisle travels to Jerusalem with his partner and their two kids for a year. His partner is an administrator for "Doctors Without Borders" and Delisle spends the year working on his comics, looking after the kids, and exploring/trying to understand the city of Jerusalem and its peoples.
If you've read Delisle's work before you'll know he goes to hard-to-reach places and reports on his time there (North Korea, China, Burma) and that the resulting travelogues are always entertaining and enlightening - just like this latest book.
The book isn't a polemic nor is it meant to explain the region or the history, it's really just a memoir/travelogue of his time there. So there is equal parts of his time describing his everyday duties looking after the kids and going to parties, making friends, as much as there is encountering and observing violence from bombings in Gaza, to the numerous checkpoints and outright chaos of this area.
The reader gets to see how bizarre Jerusalem is. The city is divided into Christian quarters, Jewish quarters, and Muslim quarters, where literally one side of the street a woman can wear what she likes and on the other she must be covered head to foot. The constant military presence and day to day reminders of violence - everyone carries a gun, not just soldiers. The shrillness of the piercing calls to prayer echo throughout the city whether you are religious or not. The ridiculously high number of checkpoints everywhere, the constant traffic jams...
As an atheist myself, it's hard to believe that this troubled region is because of one group believing one thing over another leading to literally millennia of conflict. As such, it's incredibly shocking how people will be so petty over everything. One contested house becomes demolished, another goes up - years pass, the house is demolished/taken over, another goes up. And on and on. And the bizarre behaviour of Orthodox Jews who are just flat out racist and violent toward anybody who isn't an Orthodox Jew themselves, is just terrifying.
Delisle doesn't take sides on whether he believes one side is right over another, he's an atheist himself and does his best to present all sides of the argument. Through his fresh eyes the reader sees the area as if they were visiting it themselves. It's a fascinating look at a troubled region, told memorably and filled with excellent artwork throughout all by Delisle, who has once again written/drawn a wonderful book on a strange part of our world with characteristic good humour and intelligence.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Agree with all the one star reviews. Author clearly comes with one-sided bias that he never bothers to question. The book is boring when it is not downright aggravating in its inaccurate and one sided view point. Descriptions of "settlers" and "occupiers" are manipulative, misleading and insulting to the trials that Israel faces on a daily basis. Having spent much time in jerusalem during both peaceful periods and war time, i can testify to the fact that this book does no justice to this beautiful city, cultyre and land. Would put zero stars if I could.