Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Day Twenty-Two: Footnotes in Gaza

Welcome to Day Twenty-Two in The 24 Days of Books. Today's book is hot off the press. Footnotes in Gaza, by Portland cartoonist-reporter Joe Sacco, is a sweeping, original investigation of a forgotten crime in the most tormented of places: Rafah, a town at the bottom-most tip of the Gaza Strip -- a town where 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 Rafa -- 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 came to Gaza and immersed himself in daily life, uncovering Rafah past and present. Spanning fifty years and moving fluidly between one war and the next, alive with the voices of fugitives and schoolchildren, widows and sheiks, Footnotes in Gaza captures the essence of a tragedy. As in his previous work, Sacco's unique visual journalism has rendered a contested landscape in brilliant, meticulous detail. Footnotes in Gaza, his most ambitious work to date, transforms a critical conflict of our age into an intimate and immediate experience. According to Publisher's Weekly, "Having already established his reputation as the world's leading comics journalist, Sacco... is now making a serious case to be considered one of the world's top journalists, period....It's his exacing and harrowing interviews that make this book an invaluable piece of journalism."

This book just hit stores today, and it's destined to be another big seller. Last Sunday The Oregonian named Footnotes in Gaza one of the Top Ten Northwest Books for 2009, so come and get it before the shelves are bare. For many more gift-giving ideas, check out our gargantuan December newsletter, which you can read by clicking here.

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