Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Photographer: into war-torn Afghanistan with Doctors without Borders by Emmanuel Guibert, Didier Lefevre, and Frederic Lemercier (Translated by

Graphic novels are a unique format of storytelling, where image and text are used to communicate. Often times mistaken for comic books featuring superheroes, graphic novels feature a variety of characters and portray fictional and real life situations. The Photographer: into war-torn Afghanistan with Doctors without Borders is based on the real life experiences of a team of mostly French doctors and journalists, who were on mission in 1986 in Northern Afghanistan. During this time Afghanistan was a hotbed of violence between the Soviet Union and the Afghan Mujahideen. Using illustrations drawn by Emmanuel Guibert and the photographs and text of international photojournalist Didier Lefevre, The Photographer demonstrates the hardships of the Afghani people and the doctors determined to help them.

This graphic novel is unlike the typical illustrated story because of its use of Lefevre’s raw photographs- many of which are viewed from their original contact sheets. The drawings and text expand upon the photos and provide the narrative of this difficult journey. At times graphic, the reader encounters the same victims as the doctors, including children with fatal injuries. The cultural differences and political turmoil of the area travelled by the doctors is also communicated. The graphic novel easily expresses the physical and mental exhaustion experienced by all of those involved and visualizes the hardships of war. The story also dispels certain myths about the Afghani people, who have been misrepresented in the media. This story is relevant today because of the current democratization of Afghanistan and United States’ military involvement.

Currently the book is located in the New Books section at the front of the library. Once the book is added to the regular collection it will not located in the Young Adult collection. Instead it will be located in the Non-fiction section toward the back of the library. The call number for the book is: 070.4909581 Guibert.

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