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This review is from: Footnotes in Gaza (Album)
The historical context of the situation in Gaza seems like an unlikely source of inspiration for a piece of graphic literature, but there have been several excellent books on the subject. Joe Sacco's Palestine provided an interesting (if a trifle one sided) look at life in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, presenting the daily struggles, humiliations and frustrations of the Palestinians living in the occupied territories. He returns to familiar ground with Footnotes in Gaza, a look at the small town of Rafah on the southern tip of the Gaza Strip. In 1956 a single bloody incident saw one hundred and eleven Palestinian refugees shot dead by Israeli soldiers. Sacco sets out to examine the conflicting truths surrounding this incident by immersing himself in daily life in Rafah, and trying to clear some fairly murky waters: was it a coldblooded massacre or was it a dreadful mistake?
As someone who is fairly naive to the political and historical situation in Gaza this book was a real eye opener. To present over 50 years worth of conflict, misery, and oppression in such a way could be off putting. However Sacco has a real gift through his artwork for humanising people who have committed some grisly act either in the name of their beliefs, or through following orders. Footnotes in Gaza provides a poignant snapshot of ordinary people trapped in desperate circumstances
The events depicted in Footnotes in Gaza should resonate strongly with the people of Northern Ireland, and the aftermath of that fateful day in 1957 clearly still affects the everyday life of the people of Rafah in a way that the residents of Claudy, the Bogside or the Shankill Road may sadly find all too familiar. Sacco is open and honest about not only the information he uncovers but the sources of this information, and his methodology. He presents his findings in an unbiased fashion and is typically able to avoid editorialising.
If nothing else Sacco has proven that the comic book can have a wealth of value above and beyond being an entertainment for children or idiots. This is less a graphic novel than one of the finest pieces of historical reportage I have ever had the pleasure to read. Absolutely astonishing.