Books Review

Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City – Guy Delisle

Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City - Guy Delisle

Reading helps to discover new worlds and to see what surrounds us with different eyes. This is exactly what happens with Guy Delisle’s graphic novels. Among his most famous graphic novels is Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City by Guy Delisle.

Jerusalem | Chronicles from the Holy City | Plot

Guy Delisle spent one year in Jerusalem in 2008. He relocated there together with his wife, who was working with the no-profit humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders, and their 2 kids. This graphic novel describes his experience living in Jerusalem. Right from his arrival in East Jerusalem, they lived in Beit Hanina, things looked very different from what usually people imagine when they think of the Holy City. Guy Delisle describes his daily life in Jerusalem with a series of small anecdotes. Many of them report stories from his visit to unique places like the church of the Holy Sepulchre, Masada, the Samaritan community, or a refugee camp. The author does an excellent job at providing a brief but still comprehensive historical and religious background for each of those short visits. That helps readers a lot to contextualize the events and better understand them. A similar approach is also used when describing celebrations of Jewish holidays like Purim, Pesach, and Yom Kippur through his eyes.

That is not the only focus of this graphic novel though. There are plenty of pages dedicated to daily challenges like commuting through the city, finding a babysitter for his children, or even searching for a quiet spot where to make some drawings of the Israel-West Bank barrier. All those tiny adventures give a much better idea of how living there was like.

More about Guy Delisle

I discovered Guy Delisde reading his most famous travel diaries, Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea (2003), and Jerusalem (2011), where the Canadian cartoonist gives us readers a chance to get to know these countries through his eyes and experiences. 

The strong restrictions imposed and the cultural clashes between West and East are well described in these graphic novels with his unique and simple style.

Clearly, Guy Delisde is not only known for his travel diaries. He has in fact published more than 20 graphic novels which I leave here in case you would like to have a look at them. Among all of them, my next reading will certainly be – Flee. Story of a hostage. Guy Delisde tells the story of Christophe André’s kidnapping and imprisonment for three months in Chechnya in 1997. Read the review on The Guardian.

Where to find Jerusalem by Guy Delisle

“Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City” is an easy-to-read graphic novel that will help you discover many aspects of daily life in Israel and the West Bank which might not be known to the most.

Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City - Guy Delisle

Bonus Content

To learn more about these places through the eyes and illustrations of another great cartoonist, I recommend reading “Palestine” and “Footnotes in Gaza” by Joe Sacco. Unmissable graphic novels.

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