REVIEW: “Safe Area Gorazde,” by Joe Sacco (2000)
Reviewed by REBECCA RANDALL
I have never been so disturbed by a book before this one. And I have read books about war. But Joe Sacco’s use of art to communicate a story penetrates deeper into the soul than mere words.
“Safe Area Gorazde” is a journalistic graphic novel that details life in Gorazde, Bosnia between 1992-1995. Gorazde is a Bosnian town that was surrounded by Serb separatist forces and was designated a safe area by the United Nations. During the Communist rule of Tito, the town’s Muslims and Serbs lived side-by-side. But when Serb separatist forces surround the city to “cleanse” it of non-Serbs, the Muslim population is essentially betrayed by its Serbian neighbors and forced to cling to the remnants of their town during a three-year siege.
Sacco tells his story as any journalist does – through interviews and personal accounts of witnesses – but his ability to depict the story in pictures creates a searing connection from reader to victim.
Also by Joe Sacco:
- “Palestine,” by Joe Sacco (1996). In another book of comics journalism, Sacco tells the story of the Palestinians hoping to air the grievances of the Israelis to a country whose foreign policy supports the other side.