Around the World in 80 Books discussion

PALESTINE: Baddawi > As You Read - What do you think about Baddawi?

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message 1: by Cait (new)

Cait | 150 comments Mod
What are you thinking about our book on Palestine?

message 2: by Cait (new)

Cait | 150 comments Mod
First thought - I requested that Hennepin County Library buy this and they bought two copies, but then I didn't put it on hold right away and now I'm #4 on the list. I'm glad that non-book club people are also into this book, though!

message 3: by Becki (new)

Becki Iverson | 81 comments I'm getting it next :) So maybe you'll get the copy after me!

message 4: by Cait (new)

Cait | 150 comments Mod
I figured you were probably on the list!

message 5: by Claire (new)

Claire | 96 comments I just read this today since I'm heading out on another long trip out of the country. Don't want to be worrying about lugging and losing library books! It's a really quick read, I actually read it in one sitting. I liked it. There are obviously a lot of similarities to Persepolis, although it's shorter. I think that makes it more accessible, although I did end up wishing some parts had been further developed. Seeing the drawing with the bomb labeled "Made in USA" really struck me. The end was also a good reminder about the sacrifice made in studying abroad as a stateless person, since your visa doesn't guarantee re-entry to the place your family is living. That's something I certainly didn't have to worry about when deciding on college, a privilege I took for granted at the time.

Basically, this is one family's immigration story. I think it's really important to listen to such stories. At the same time, you see a just particular piece of the larger conflict. The Israel-Palestinian conflict is complicated, and it will take many stories to get a well-rounded view (for example, last year I read a collection of essays by Raja Shehadeh about living in the West Bank during the occupation, which is a very different yet equally important picture compared to being in the Palestinian diaspora).

I look forward to seeing what you guys have to say about it! Not sure how much I'll be able to contribute to the conversation once I'm traveling, but I'll definitely look to follow along. I'll chime in if I can.

message 6: by Claire (last edited May 08, 2018 05:36PM) (new)

Claire | 96 comments Also: One thing in particular that I learned from this book that I previously didn't know much about is the conflict between the Lebanese army and Palestinian refugees, including the Ein al-Rummanah bus massacre. I also did not know much about the divisions between East and West Beirut (and the green line/how dangerous it was for Palestinians to cross into the east side).

message 7: by Becki (new)

Becki Iverson | 81 comments Agree with your thoughts Claire! I really enjoyed this, it was nice to have a graphic novel break from some of the drier books we've been reading lately. I knew a lot of the facts of events in this book but they really impacted me differently when seen through a continuous lens of experience as building on one another, and not as just isolated incidents. I've always really felt for the Palestinian people as they really did get a raw deal during the creation of Israel (#thanksbritishcolonization) and Baddawi made it so much more personal. I'm not sure what the solution is to that conflict but I am very glad that we read this! And Claire agree also about the power of the "Made in USA" on the bomb - I've seen more and more stories about just this, kids and civilians abroad being directly impacted by weapons we sold to other countries, and it just breaks my heart. I sure wish we found another way to engage in foreign policy with diplomacy and aid rather than bombs and bullets.

message 8: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia Bull | 18 comments Huzzah! I finished a book in time to participate in discussion!

I loved this one. I’d echo what y’all had already stated about the impact of the Made in USA designation on the bomb (understated yet so powerful). I was also interested to learn about the Palestinian community in Lebanon - I didn’t know much about that. I’m much more familiar with the situation within Palestine and neighboring Jordan. So I’ll definitely be looking into more of the history now that I’ve gotten a taste from this one story.

One of the main things that stuck out to me so much throughout the whole book is how the specter of war and violence is continually lurking in the background, coloring most other aspects of life. I felt it was a powerful visual representation of what it might be like to live in the midst of war: people live their lives, but the fear and the evidence of violence and terror is also constantly present.

message 9: by Cait (new)

Cait | 150 comments Mod
Finally got a chance to sit down and read this one! I also really enjoyed it - I thought it was a really good, approachable starting point to a a complicated (awful) situation. One of the things I really like about this club is that these books generally make me want to read a million more books about the same country, and that was definitely the case with this one.

I enjoyed her style of art, with the side-by-side narratives that for me really showed what Sylvia said, about the specter of war and violence always lurking. A few of the parts that stood out to me were the 'made in the USA' bomb, like you all said, but also the scene where he's out getting groceries, there's a bomb, and he just brushes himself off and brings his groceries back to his mom. That one was just... wow.

Also, similar to Persepolis, I was struck by the (forced) independence of Ahmad. Yes, he had family and friends looking out for him in Baddawi when he was away from his parents, unlike how Satrapi was isolated in Europe, but the story of staying where you could, working where you could (and getting abused by employers, etc.) still echoed some of that isolation, I thought? I don't know, not sure I made sense there!

Like Claire, I also thought about the impact of being stateless. It reminded me of my undocumented friend, who lived in America for almost all of his life, but if he had left the U.S. would not have been allowed in - but what if in addition to that he wouldn't have been allowed back in Mexico either? An impossible situation, and one SO MANY people have to deal with!

I also just really appreciated hearing some of the timelines she included to ground the narrative - I knew only a couple of the 'big' events, but there are 75 years of really big events spread everywhere.

message 10: by Cait (new)

Cait | 150 comments Mod
Also: I really loved the tatreez patterning used throughout! Nothing like combining my love for needle arts and books <3

message 11: by Becki (new)

Becki Iverson | 81 comments Yes to all of that Cait! I keenly felt the impact of being stateless in a way I hadn't truly considered before. Having an American passport is an almost unfathomable privilege and I don't think I'll ever truly appreciate it as I should, but I just can't imagine literally having nothing to "identify" yourself. Really hits home the idea that people cannot ever be illegal or alien - people are people, and always deserve to be cared for as such. It's amazing how many profound ideas can be packed into a slim graphic novel!

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