Footnotes in Gaza

Sacco, Joe. Footnotes in Gaza. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2009.

The first time you crack open Footnotes in Gaza you are taken aback by the powerful imagery. True, it is a graphic novel so it is supposed to be full of black and white squares full of images but keep this in mind, it’s nonfiction. It messes with your mind. You associate comics with the Sunday funnies…you know, comedy, light-hearted. So, to see images of war in a comic-strip format is confusing. But, your mind adjusts. From the very first pages you get a sense of what you are in for, “It is the story of footnotes to a sideshow of a forgotten war. The war pitted Egypt against the strange alliance of Britain, France and Israel in 1956” (p 8). Footnotes in Gaza has a strange effect on the reader. More graphic than a dry newspaper account, Sacco’s illustrations shove the violence and hatred into the forefront. And, yet despite being less graphic than actual photographs, the images linger in your mind…
This is another book that sprung from a journalist assignment (see The Long Walk). This time, Joe Sacco was asked to visit the Gaza Strip for Harper’s Magazine.

Head snap quotes, “And this begins the aggravating mismatch pitting hapless cartoonist against wily ex-guerrilla” (p 41), “I cannot untangle the twining guilt and grief that envelope a person who survives what so many other did not; nor can I explain what might induce a traumatized individual’s to recall a brother’s death if he was not there – assuming he was not” (p 116) and, “We come up with some sufficiently earnest bullsh!t” (p 125).

Reason read: May is National Graphic Novel month…

Book trivia: Footnotes in Gaza is just one of Sacco’s graphic novels about the middle east.

Author fact: Joe Sacco is the creator of war-comics and should not to be confused with the hockey player who used to play in Denver, Colorado. Never mind.

Other stuff: hookah = hubbly-bubbly.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “A Mention of the Middle East” (p 144).

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