Burma Chronicles

Guy Delisle, Helge Dascher (trs.)

Burma Chronicles

After developing his acclaimed style of firsthand reporting with his bestselling graphic novels "Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea" and "Shenzen: A Travelogue from China", Guy Delisle is back with "Burma Chronicles"... In this country notorious for its use of concealment and isolation as social control - where scissors-wielding censors monitor the papers, the de facto leader of the opposition has been under decade-long house arrest, insurgent-controlled regions are effectively cut off from the world, and rumour is the most reliable source of current information - he turns his gaze to the everyday for a sense of the bigger picture. Delisle's deft and recognisable renderings take note of almsgiving rituals, daylong power-cuts and rampant heroin use in outlying regions, in this place where catastrophic mismanagement and ironhanded rule come up against profound resilience of spirit, expatriate life ambles along, and non-governmental organisations struggle with the risk of co-option by the military junta. "Burma Chronicles" is drawn with a minimal line, and interspersed with wordless vignettes and moments of Delisle's distinctive slapstick humour. 4.0 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
Burma Chronicles

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Comics & Graphic Novels, Travel
Format Hardback
Pages 272
RRP £14.99
Date of Publication April 2009
ISBN 978-0224087711
Publisher Jonathan Cape
 

After developing his acclaimed style of firsthand reporting with his bestselling graphic novels "Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea" and "Shenzen: A Travelogue from China", Guy Delisle is back with "Burma Chronicles"... In this country notorious for its use of concealment and isolation as social control - where scissors-wielding censors monitor the papers, the de facto leader of the opposition has been under decade-long house arrest, insurgent-controlled regions are effectively cut off from the world, and rumour is the most reliable source of current information - he turns his gaze to the everyday for a sense of the bigger picture. Delisle's deft and recognisable renderings take note of almsgiving rituals, daylong power-cuts and rampant heroin use in outlying regions, in this place where catastrophic mismanagement and ironhanded rule come up against profound resilience of spirit, expatriate life ambles along, and non-governmental organisations struggle with the risk of co-option by the military junta. "Burma Chronicles" is drawn with a minimal line, and interspersed with wordless vignettes and moments of Delisle's distinctive slapstick humour.

Reviews

The Guardian

Rory MacLean

How, I asked myself, could a "comic book" begin to convey the cruelty, injustice and absurdity of life in that betrayed, golden land? The answer is with fantastic verve. Simply put, Burma Chronicles is the most enlightening and insightful book on Burma in years. The key to its success are Delisle's whimsical, black-and-white drawings, as well as his endearingly naïve and humorous self-portrait.

19/05/2009

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The Daily Telegraph

Clover Stroud

Delisle is excellent at portraying the sometimes sinister details of day-to-day existence, and the comic-book format is completely engaging... As a counterpoint to the often inaccessible news stories about the country, this is an excellent portrait of a little-understood land, and makes for a deeply original and fascinating piece of travel writing.

06/05/2009

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The New Yorker

Books Briefly Noted

Drawn with charming simplicity and brio, the book mixes traditional travelogue with glimmers of the unexpected, as when Delisle notes that in the local newspaper “some articles contain nothing but a list of officials present at a given event,” or discovers a lit light bulb placed in a drawer to keep paper dry during monsoon season. Delisle takes a whimsical approach but also logs political realities—the increasing difficulty of getting travel permits for humanitarian work, the abrupt banishment of foreign videos from stores.

21/05/2009

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The Observer

Roger Sabin

Don't be fooled by the uncluttered, caricatural style: this is a political work, even an important one.

10/05/2009

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The Times

Neel Mukherjee

What could have been another riveting piece of journalistic storytelling gets repeatedly short-circuited by the hypercomplaining presence of Delisle himself... His clinical self-absorption works as both occluding filter and black hole so that, on one hand, nothing about Burma survives unclouded by this carping perception and, on the other, everything is sucked into the vortex of Delisle’s relentless moaning.

06/05/2009

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