Non-Fiction  > History, Science, Religion & Politics

Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia 1992-1995

Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia 1992-1995 back

Joe Sacco


Page 45 Review by Mark

Sacco made four visits to Gorazde in late '95 and early '96 as a cartoonist/reporter and this 228-page book is the result. His previous 'Soba' told of the some of the people that he met and, thankfully, more such stories cushion the details of the horror that he heard about. Early on he lets you know that he occupies a strange and blessed position in the community and that he's become something of a celebrity in the town. Everyone knows of the American reporter and many want him to either take them away, send messages to loved ones in other towns or bring in goods from outside. The claustrophobia they felt is communicated well. This is a place cut off from the rest of the world. Any news is devoured and savoured. One woman tells him that their conversation will keep her for a few weeks. We live in an age where communication of information can be instant and easy (within a few minutes I can send this message to several hundred people) making it difficult to imagine the prison the war had made out of Gorazde.

His shading is stunning, up there with Crumb and Gerhard. The captions remind me of post-it notes, casually placed over the panels when times are merry. As a narrator he is rarely imposing, the voice of the people he met shines through instead. Sacco's art portrays each different character, allowing you into their grief, anger, black humour and cynicism. Many still find it hard to believe that their neighbours have turned against them, destroying their homes, killing friends and family. The brutality of the 'ethnic cleansing' is shown quite graphically without sensationalism. At times it's a very difficult read, emotionally draining.

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