Guy Delisle's BURMA CHRONICLES
Review by Dennis D. McDonald
This comic strip depiction of Delisle’s year in Burma as a “house-dad” while accompanying his Doctors Without Borders wife is simultaneously touching, funny, and scary.
Initially he reports on the struggles of arriving in a new country with a professional wife and an infant. This gradually expands into an exploration of the day to day outrages faced by the Burmese people as they deal with a repressive political regime that, as best as I can tell, are basically a group of blood-sucking thugs.
A good companion piece for this book would be Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin. Taken together they provide a view of an ancient and proud culture that is somehow dealing with a government that does everything in its power to resist basic freedoms that many of us (mistakenly) take for granted.
The beauty of Delisle’s book is his deft ability to interweave simple day to day activities with profound observations about culture and human spirit. And he does this with a spare drawing style that is both realistic and cartoon like.
And there is much humor here. Check out the “toad in the house” adventure, for example.
There is also touching sentimentality especially when the scene shifts to report on the words of bedridden elders who speak about the old days before the current regime. Delisle depicts these situations with grace and touching simplicity.
Review copyright (c) 2010 by Dennis D. McDonald