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The Library of Babel

A Spin-off of http://bookwormshead.blogspot.co.uk

Palestine - Joe Sacco, Edward W. Said I knew something about Joe Sacco and already put this book into my wishlist, but my interest for this graphic novel has grown up thanks to something I recently experienced.

I've had the opportunity of working as a live translator for theatre. The company I was translating for came to Italy from Palestine and was meeting the Italian audience immediately after their performance.

Being just an amateurish live translator from English to Italian and viceversa, it was very important for me meeting and knowing before the people I was going to work for and with. This not only for getting their English level and peculiar accents, but also for creating a sort of team chemistry between us.

The guys from Palestinian theatre company turned out to be very nice, kind and sympathetic. Then the live translation process of questions by the audience and answers by the actors totally worked out.

Yet I experienced how the "interpreter role" does not allow you to express your own opinions on the statements you have to translate: you're just a mirror, a human tool for mutual comprehension. This may sound obvious, but being mostly a journalist shocked me a little bit.

In fact, not everything the guys said during the debates was convincing me. Of course I could understand their common point of view being Palestinian people, but I would have preferred a wider mind openness by their side toward some Israeli people.

The situation between Palestine and Israel is pretty much controversial.
The more I thought and think about it, the more I'm not able to pick a part. As for me, no one there is either on the right or on the wrong side. Israeli people made and makes mistakes. Palestinian people did and do the same. Of course both choosing different ways.

Joe Sacco went to Palestine in the early 1990s to win over bad stereotypes over Palestinian people. This explains why this book is more about the Palestinian point of view than the Israelian one. It was calculated. Sacco didn't want to make a social essay, but he basically aimed to get some first hand informations, feelings and voices just from one side of the "barricade". He jokes many times about his all but perfect journalistic skills and tries so hard to avoid personal comments and opinions on what he sees and listens around.

This said his reportages are sometimes confused, especially when he doesn't focus his attention on small details and personal stories but tries to give the reader a wider perspective. The same may be said for some of his graphic choices while adding too many written informations. On the contrary I liked the human and personal side of the book, with Sacco not putting himself in a superjournalist shoes but expressing his daily thoughts and sensations, not only while they are profound.

I agree with Irwan about the bleakness of the graphic style used by Sacco. This is probably a characteristic of him as a drawer overall, but in "Palestine" is particularly appropriated for creating a kind of disturbing effect in the readers eyes. An effect that takes us there.

Vera was asking me what I think about the end of Palestine. Well, it's very hard to answer as there is no ending. The book suddenly ends as there is a final scene missing somehow. I wonder if this has to do just with my edition of "Palestine" or if it's a choice by Sacco. If there is a choice behind it's unclear and he may have done it better.