COMPARING PALESTINE AND PYONGYANG

When I think about the two graphic novels we read for the class, which are Pyongyang by Guy Delisle and Palestine by Joe Sacco, I think of the fact that although they are similar in many aspects, such as they both use journalistic approach and provide information about the places that we have limited knowledge about, they are completely different. After thinking about Ian Bogost’s definition of vignettes my vision and understanding of them became clearer. When I read that his explanation of vignettes which described how vignettes “offer detailed, sordid glimpses into the lives of residents” of urban areas, and that “The vignette is neither essay nor documentary. It does not make an argument, but characterizes an experience”. In my opinion, it is far the best definition I’ve ever read due to the fact, that both the readings share their authors’ experience with the readers. Therefore, in my opinion, vignettes helped to share their experience, however, authors used and presented them in completely different ways.

Palestine tells us different stories and gives us the opportunity to learn more about the situation in the country through detailed interviews with people living there. Every page is extremely detailed and requires paying close attention to notice everything author included and wanted us to see to fully understand his vision of the stories and every character. By adding endless details, Joe Sacco created chaotic atmosphere and difficult to absorb text that makes it harder to enjoy the book due to the feeling of being confused while reading it. However, vignettes created the feeling of immersion, which made the reading both difficult and easy to read at the same time due to the fact, that it was both easy to follow, and confusing to find a moment where you can stop to take a break from reading. To be honest, it was very difficult for me to read the book due to the fact, that I felt lost in the pages, which made me struggle and, therefore, I did not enjoy reading Palestine. It was challenging to go from one page to the next one because I had the feeling of losing some details while turning the page and sometimes I had to read the previous page again to fully understand the next page. However, I realize that it is an enormous work to create such detailed graphic novel and, therefore, I highly appreciate the work he’s done. In my opinion, not every author is able to put this much effort into the graphic novel he creates and Joe Sacco deserves respect due to the level of details included in Palestine.

Pyongyang, on the contrary, was based on the author’s own experience and did not involve any interviews with other people. Additionally, the book was easier to absorb and more engaging to me as a reader. Its simplicity made the process of reading very enjoyable and easier to follow. Therefore, I liked this book more, as I could follow the story without feeling lost in the pages. Due to the fact, that we do not have access to Pyongyang and we have limited knowledge about the situation in the country and the way the people live there, it was highly beneficial to take this unique opportunity as Delisle opens a window for us to help us have more understanding of the places we cannot see and the people’s life. He kept vignettes simple, yet informative. They were not complicated or confusing due to the fact, that they were just telling us daily stories that happened to the author. However, by following his quiet and uneventful daily life, by the end of the book we realize that although nothing major happened, all the stories together gave us more understanding and maybe some of the readers formed a new opinion about their way of life.

Taking everything into account, I can say that, in my opinion, although both Palestine and Pyongyang are extremely informative books that give us insight and opportunity to know more about the places that we cannot visit, Pyongyang was more engaging and enjoyable read that Palestine. The main difference between these two books is that vignettes in Pyongyang involve stories and own experience of Guy Delisle, while vignettes in Palestine involve both the opinion and stories of Sacco and interviews of other people, which gives us multiple angles and points of view. Therefore, while there is one advantage in the one book, there is also another advantage in the other book. Although I liked Pyongyang more than Palestine, both of them present useful and valuable information that is limited to us, which should be treated with respect and appreciation.

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