Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Game for Swallows by Zeina Abirached

A Game for Swallows.  To Die, To Leave, To Return by Zeina Abirached

Zeina was born during the Lebanon Civil War in 1981.  The Civil War lasted from 1975-1990 and it divided the city of Beirut into East and West with the Christians living on the East side and the Muslims on the West side of the demarcation line.

In a Game for Swallows Zeina writes and draws about one particularly memorable day when she was little and living in an apartment near the demarcation line.  The streets were lined with metal barrels, with walls of sandbags and cinder blocks to act as shields from sniper bullets.  Zeina's parents regularly traveled the dangerous streets to visit her grandmother who lived a few blocks away.

Zeina, with her parents and little brother lived in a apartment in East Beirut.  The only room they used in the apartment was the foyer because it was the safest place.  They slept there, ate there and entertained other apartment dwellers there.  There is a taxi driver, a newly married couple with a pregnant wife waiting for their papers to emigrate to Canada, the old nanny, and a whole host of other interesting apartment dwellers.  Many of whom had suffered losses of family members and property.

A Game for Swallows is told in stark black and white artwork.  Each detail is so fine as the story is told minute by minute, hour by hour.  The facial expressions change in increments as Abirached captures wartime.  The reader learns what it is like to live in a war zone from a child's perspective.  No where to play, fearful for your family and scared of loud noises.  Living life in a tiny space called home that is filled with love and support from everyone in their apartment building.

I am always looking for graphic novels that have historical significance and take place in far away places.  I devoured A Game for Swallows and send out a cry to authors and artists for more book like this.  A Game for Swallows was so beautiful, realistic and ominous all at the same time.  I hope I never live in a place where war is a part of my daily life and I sincerely hope we find a cure for war so no one has to live the way Zeina Abirached has lived.

Right now there are 60 countries experiencing conflict.  Right now there are children in an apartment foyer hiding from sniper bullets, fearful for their parents.  

Let's find a cure for war.