May 25 2008
The first time I went to Sarajevo, I met a group of guys in a bar. After a few beers, one of them told me the following joke.
Two guys were running across Sniper’s Alley… While they are crossing the street, one guy gets shot and has his ear blown off his head. After making it across, he says, “I have to go back and get my ear!” The other guy yells, “What? Are you crazy? Don’t go for back for the ear! You will get killed!” But the guy says, “No you don’t understand. I have to go get my ear!— I had a cigarette behind it!”
Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Gorazde relates to this joke on several levels. It’s kind of funny; it’s kind of sickening; and it kind of makes you feel uncomfortable. And, given the subject matter ( the war in Bosnia), this is a very natural response.
There’s no other book about the war in Bosnia quite like this graphic novel. Usually when I read books about the conflict in the Balkans, I become a bit more confused. Sacco exposes the immediate ( and incredibly personal) experience of what everyday life was like living under the siege. It does more that simply inform the reader– it makes the subject a lot more understandable.
By the way, did I mention that it is a comic book?Read more: Book Reviews, Eastern Europe, Graphic Novels, Travel Writing
Lisa can usually be found staring longingly at the Eastern European shelf at the Globe Corner Bookstore. However, she really wants to go to Colombia.