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Book Review: Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco

Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco


It took me a long time to finish Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco, which may seem surprising, since so often graphic novels read quickly. But this one is very dense and the material it discusses is complex, to say the least. Sacco tells this story through individual tales, footnotes, so to speak, that really illustrate the broader picture. History is often told through large headlines, not these "small" stories of one family here, one man or woman there, but Sacco chooses to do just that, and he does so effectively.

Though I think some parts were a bit repetitive, maybe that was intentional to emphasize the point that everything in this conflict repeats and repeats and nothing seems to be resolved and maybe never will be. There are old resentments on both sides and peace seems elusive, if not downright impossible. There is something quite brilliant and certainly memorable about this book, but it is far from light reading, so if you're looking for a graphic novel in the ilk of Persepolis (truly fascinating and well done but also far more digestible), this may not be it.

I think Sacco achieves his aim of telling a compelling, tragic story, but one is also left with a feeling that history is not the best teacher after all, and mistakes and cruelty are repeated again and again.