Jun 9Review: Jerusalem Chronicles from the Holy City
Written and drawn by Guy Delisle
Reviewed by Joshua Drummond
Guy Deslisle is a French-Canadian cartoonist who is best known for his comic-book travelogue Pyongang, which features the artist as a young animator experiencing ennui in the world’s most isolated city. Jerusalem is his fourth travel book, and his best work to date.
Jerusalem, which follows the life of Delisle his wife (who works for Doctors Without Borders) and his two small children, is much more than a mere travel story. It blends journalistic insight with a gift for rendering everyday life in a strange place. It’s the little things that make up a Guy Delisle book: feeling guilty for shopping for diapers in an illegal Jewish settlement, searching for a playground for his kids, making friends with a cleric who offers him drawing space in his ancient church… Short tourist jaunts are chronicled with one-page, wordless comics, and chapters are broken up with sketches from Delisle’s notebook.
Delisle doesn’t set out to make points. He just tells a story, and his tiny windows into the world make his points for him. It’s a mark of a cleverly-written book that Delisle’s views on the morals of the complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict are easy to distinguish without ever digressing into editorialising.
The book is simply and appealingly drawn. Delisle’s background in animation means he’s got a great eye for gesture. The art works seamlessly with the words, and he knows exactly when to leave out background or render a piece in exquisite detail. The whole book is just beautiful.
Having read Jerusalem, you feel like you’ve already been there.
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