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Thin wallets, fat bookshelves | Joe Sacco’s next book

by  in Comic News Comment
Thin wallets, fat bookshelves | Joe Sacco’s next book

I receieved a nice surprise while flipping through publisher Henry Holt’s fall 2009 catalog yesterday. There, on pages 24-5 was a nice plug for Joe Sacco’s upcoming book, Footnotes in Gaza. I’ll steal directly from the catalog copy to provide you with a plot summary.

Rafah, a town at the bottommost tip of the Gaza Stip, is a squalid place. Raw concrete buildings front trash-strewn alleys. The narrow streets are crowded with young children and unemployed men. On the border with Egypt, swaths of Rafah have been bulldozed to rubble. Rafah is today and has always been a notorious flashpoint in this bitterest of conflicts.

Buried deep in the archives is one bloody incident, in 1956, that left 111 Palestinian refugees dead, shot by Israeli soldiers. Seemingly a footnote to a long history of killing, that day in Rafah — cold-blooded massacre or dreadful mistake — reveals the competing truths that have come to define an intractable war. In a quest to get to the heart of what happened, Joe Sacco arrives in Gaza and, immersing himself in daily life uncovers Rafah past and present. Spanning fifty years, moving fluidly between one war and the next, alive with the voices of fugitives and schoolchildren, widows and sheikhs, Footnotes in Gaza captures the essence of a tragedy.

The catalog doesn’t give a price, but does note that the book is 416 pages and will be out in stores this December. Sacco is one of the most talented people in comics today, and he’s been working on this project for quite awhile. I strongly anticipate this being the dark horse candidate for best book of the year.

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