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Palestine by Joe Sacco

Palestine (original 1993; edition 2002)

by Joe Sacco, Edward Said

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1,106267,505 (4.19)77
Authors:Joe Sacco
Other authors:Edward Said
Info:Fantagraphics Books (2002), Edition: First Edition (states), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library

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Palestine by Joe Sacco (1993)


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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
In this graphic novel, Joe Sacco recounts the time he spent in Palestine in the early 1990s. He traveled to the area because he felt that journalists were doing a poor job portraying the Palestinian side of the conflict and he wanted to hear their side of the story. In the novel he depicts horrific stories of imprisonment and the injustices suffered by the Palestinian people. I suppose it is a valuable piece of journalism, but I didn't like it very much.

I didn't like the illustrations at all. In the introduction to the book, Sacco says that a number of critics have not been happy the way he draws people, that they are too "cartoony" or something of the sort. Maybe that was it, but I just felt like the illustrations made the people not seem like real people, even though they all are real people. (Wow, that is quite a sentence.) Anyway, I didn't feel connected to anything going on the the book, and even though it dealt with a pretty horrible subject matter, I wasn't all that empathetic. ( )
  klburnside | Aug 11, 2015 |
"Palestine" is Sacco's illustrated account of his time as a journalist in Palestine in the early 90s. Much of the book centers around Sacco's journey into Palestine, the people he meets and his various close calls with danger (and the Israeli Defense Force). A skeptic throughout, Sacco nonetheless takes the side of the Palestinians in trying to share their side of the story, in the Israeli-dominated media environment at the time.

Sacco's writing and drawing style draw much from the underground comix movement of the 60s and 70s, and so "Palestine" has an edginess that 's rarely replicated even in works of comics journalism today. In addition, the level of detail in Sacco's art is also remarkable, which gives his account the credibility it deserves. ( )
  jasonli | Jun 15, 2015 |
I thought this was an effective and interesting way of communicating the situation in Palestine. It's journalism presented as a series of comics, collected in this volume. The author mainly tours around Palestine talking to people and listening to their stories, and it is a fairly one sided look at the situation. I still find it quite hard to read graphic novels - I zoom through the text forgetting to look at the pictures - but thought the art worked well in this. It's a tough read in places, and is depressing to think that 20 years after this was written the situation is probably even worse there. ( )
  AlisonSakai | Sep 22, 2014 |
Palestine is a compilation of a comic book series chronicling the author's time spent in Israel and Palestine during the winter of 1991-1992. Sacco does a great job of listening to the many people he meets and relaying their personal stories and experiences, and his art work brings it all to life on the pages, especially the desolation and devastation of the Palestinian refugee camps. I find his style of comic journalism has a good balance of text with illustration. I also felt that even though the majority of this book is told from Palestinian points of view, he still provides some balance by also including some Israeli perspective, too - he talks about the massacre of Jews in Hebron as well as the damage some Jewish settlements have caused the Palestinian people. Joe Sacco is helping to provide some balance to the seeming bias of mainstream media around these issues. ( )
  michellebarton | Nov 27, 2013 |
Palestine is an illustrated account of Sacco's time spent visiting Palestinians in various places, including occupied territories, hospitals, refugee camps, and prisons. Told as a series of vignettes, Sacco strings together many different stories of torture and hardship with little editorializing or contextualizing. This may have been an attempt to allow the reader to make his or her own judgments, but I think the book could have done with a little more commentary to balance out all the one-shot stories from Palestinians who Sacco often met only long to write down said stories. For this reason, I loathe to call what Sacco is doing here "journalism," despite his own repeated acknowledgement of his role as a journalist and the general opinion that this book represents a journalistic effort.

That being said, once I banished the idea of this book being a work of journalism, I enjoyed it a great deal more. It may not be an unbiased presentation of all sides to a complicated issue, but it does give voice to a lot of voiceless people. I appreciate how Sacco went to places where I would never dare to tread and spoke to everyday people about what they were experiencing. For me, the passages about prisoner life were some of the most heart-wrenching and compelling parts of the book. Hearing these kinds of stories are both horrifying and illuminating - and discomforting because they force us to look at complex situations and evaluate or perhaps re-evaluate our opinions. They also force us to ask questions about what we should - or even can - do when we see such atrocities.

Like I said earlier, some of the inflammatory remarks out of the mouths of certain Palestinians could have used Sacco adding in some context afterwards, but the way he presented other moments really gave the reader pause and provided food for thought. One such vignette was an early one called "Valley of Kidron," in which some street children take Sacco on an unrequested and really unwanted tour and then demand they give him money. Afterwards, he stomps away from them angry, cursing under his breath and disbelieving everything they had said. It's a small scene and it's not referenced again, but I think it sets the reader up for the idea that Sacco is being taken for a ride, literally and sometimes figuratively, throughout the book. He is reporting what people tell him, but there's always the possibility that what they say is not true, or is not the whole truth. Another vignette was called "Law" and presented the idea that there's all kinds of morals out there and which ones should the be the ones respected? When they clash, which ones should supersede which ones? There's Islamic law (brought up because of a case involving an honor killing), Israeli law, the Geneva Convention, and U.N. resolutions all competing with one another. Sacco concludes this part by noting that the soldiers walking about everywhere are for all intensive purposes the law. The final one that really made me think was called "Women" and dealt with a very small subsection of the population concerned about women's rights in Palestine. The women Sacco interviews actually ask the questions directly and the way Sacco presents the illustrations, it's as though the reader is being addressed with these: "If we get a state, do we retreat back to the way things were, or do we change things? Will economic development be considered priority and women's issues left behind? We're attached to the national movement ... Any regression in the national movement and we're the hardest hit people ... The intifada isn't over ... But people figure, "If we lose Palestine, why worry about women?" (p. 136) As someone who cares a lot more about women's rights than politics (although of course recognizing that the two are almost inextricably combined), the questions raised explicitly and implicitly in this short part were particularly interesting and relevant. And throughout the book, other hard questions are directed at Sacco, especially the question of what help will come from his book. While it's a question aimed at the writer, it can also be interpreted as a question for the reader - you know about these atrocities now, what are you doing to do about them?

Regarding the graphic novel format for this book, I think it was a bold move and one that I would generally very much enjoy. However, Sacco's use of a very cartoonish style of illustration was off-putting for me. For starters, this is a look I am not really a fan of in most cases. For this book in particular, it felt very out of place with the serious story being told. A more gritty and realistic illustration style would be more difficult to stomach but more fitting with the subject matter.

In sum, I appreciate the book for bringing a perspective that American media does by and large ignore. But I do think it could use some more alternate viewpoints to make it more meaningful. Sacco attempts this but briefly in the final chapter when he talks to a few Israelis in his final days and hours before departing, but by that point it definitely seemed like "too little, too late." I'm not sure that I would necessarily recommend this book and I don't feel compelled to go read any more of Sacco's works, but for what it's worth, this is the one thing I've read/heard/watched on the Arab-Israeli conflict that really struck a chord, gave personality to the statistics, and made me want to learn more about this complicated issue. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Nov 3, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
Sacco is formidably talented. A meticulous reporter, he scrupulously interprets the testimonies of dozens of victims of the Israeli regime into cartoon form. He is also a gifted artist whose richly nuanced drawings tread a delicate path between cartoonishness and naturalism.
Palestine not only demonstrates the versatility and potency of its medium, but it also sets the benchmark for a new, uncharted genre of graphic reportage.
added by stephmo | editThe Observer, David Thompson (Jan 5, 2003)
It figures that one of the first books to make sense of this mess would be a comic book.

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joe Saccoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Said, Edward W.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedicated to Kenji, Erlis, Jamileh, Jad, Jemal, and Shafeek
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Comic books are a universal phenomenon associated with adolescence. (Homage to Joe Sacco by Edward Said)
This book collects all nine issues of a comic book series called Palestine under one cover for the first time. (Author's Forword to the complete edition of Palestine)
...but that’s the thing about coming to the Holy Land or Palestine or whatever you want to call it...no one who knows what he’s come here looking for leaves without having found it.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 156097432X, Paperback)

A landmark of journalism and the art form of comics. Based on several months of research and an extended visit to the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the early 1990s, this is a major work of political and historical nonfiction.

Prior to Safe Area Gorazde: The War In Eastern Bosnia 1992-1995—Joe Sacco's breakthrough novel of graphic journalism—the acclaimed author was best known for Palestine, a two-volume graphic novel that won an American Book Award in 1996. Fantagraphics Books is pleased to present the first single-volume collection of this landmark of journalism and the art form of comics. Based on several months of research and an extended visit to the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the early 1990s (where he conducted over 100 interviews with Palestinians and Jews), Palestine was the first major comics work of political and historical nonfiction by Sacco, whose name has since become synonymous with this graphic form of New Journalism. Like Safe Area Gorazde, Palestine has been favorably compared to Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus for its ability to brilliantly navigate such socially and politically sensitive subject matter within the confines of the comic book medium. Sacco has often been called the first comic book journalist, and he is certainly the best. This edition of Palestine also features an introduction from renowned author, critic, and historian Edward Said (Peace and Its Discontents and The Question of Palestine), one of the world's most respected authorities on the Middle Eastern conflict. Black-and-white comics throughout

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:04 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A series of vignettes and snapshots of individual lives in the occupied territories on the West Bank, Palestine is a moving portrait of an oppressed people. Sacco is a skilled journalist, getting his interview subjects to talk about their lives and experiences in detail. Foreword by Edward Said.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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