So I binge-read and finished the graphic novel “Jerusalem” by Guy Delisle today. I’ve read three of his other books and they have this incredible quality of making even the mundane seem interesting.
Delisle captures the essence of every place with an unwitting wry humour. Just like his previous books ‘Pyongyang’, ‘Shenzen’ & ‘Burma Chronicles’, he starts of the narration with his arrival at Jerusalem. This time, he is with his girlfriend who works for ‘Doctors without borders’ and their two little kids.
This book gives the reader a view of a historically significant place through the eyes of a laid-back, non-partisan observer, who believes in ‘show & tell’. One gets to understand the varied religious and geographical conflicts the region is torn in, but in a casual, light-hearted manner.
Delisle books chronicle conversations with locals, officials, journalists, cab drivers and all sorts of interesting people. Each giving a unique glimpse of the way of the world he is in. And all of this is interspersed with his own domestic duties as a dad looking after two toddlers, while his wife is away at the Gaza strip. It’s a refreshing and engaging look at “the glamorous life of a housewife”, as the author himself declares sarcastically in a panel. It’s only a joke of-course, because no ‘housewife’ gets to run around the world, including conflict-ridden zones, unaccompanied, just to draw everything around.
Here’s what is very unique about Delisle’s travelogues – they don’t really make you want to visit the place, but definitely keep you turning the pages. He takes you to corners very few travel writers do.
The illustrations are simple, stark and have a very old school comic strip touch to them. I wish he had more of these travelogue style graphic novels.
P.S – On an unrelated note – I published my second book ‘Love, Loss, Lockdown’. It’s a collection of short stories, so check it out.