Guy Deslisle has created a graphic novel travelogue of his time in the city of Jerusalem. He spent a year there with his girlfriend and their two children while she was working for Doctors without Borders as an administrator.
Delisle's book is interesting in that he comes to the city knowing not much more about the city and the Israeli / Palestinian situation than many of us, especially if all our information were gathered from the evening news. His work continually reflects the culture shock he encounters as he goes about his daily routine of caring for his children and trying to work as a graphic novel creator.
It is an interesting take from an outsider at ground level. The three major religions intersect in the holy city and Delisle navigates the confusing waters with humor and bewilderment. Several examples of this include learning the different days of the sabbath all three religions adhere to, which rules come into play for the major holidays of all the religions and where he can shop.
Delisle also devotes time to the different sects within each religion. It's one thing to understand that Jews, Muslims and Christians all reside within the city but each religion also has its own subsets and each of them have their own customs and rules. It is fascinating to see this play out over the course of the novel. From the Hasidic Jews in their settlement to the Armenian Christians, it's clear the city has a rich demographic history.
What truly makes this graphic novel accessible is Delisle's objectivity. He has no interest in pushing a particular point of view and presents the city and its residents as he finds them. It is well worth a read. You can find it here at Drawn & Quarterly's website.