The ‘Stan is a graphic novel recounting a series of seventeen snapshot accounts of the war in Afghanistan. Each is told from the perspective of a different person, be they soldier or civilian, who lived and fought there in the last decade and a half. The stories, each usually only three to four pages long, range from military sorties to life as a refugee, and each is told simply but precisely. In fact, the emotional weight and sharp perspective that each story is able to bring with such an economy of words and images are impressive. It takes a lot of sifting and culling and redrafting to achieve that kind of concision. When reading these stories, stories with which many of us are now familiar, there’s an interesting way in which the illustrations and graphic-novel format make them feel different, and, perhaps unexpectedly, more poignant. The illustrated representation of the people and places depicted affords the reader a new way to approach them, allowing a certain freedom from the associations and baggage that now accompany images and stories we now believe we understand. Much like Art Speigelman’s <em>Maus</em> was able to re-present the Holocaust in a brand new way, free from the limitations borne by that event’s ubiquity, The ‘Stan allows you to genuinely absorb the humanity of the people in it, both of those fighting and of those simply trying to live. And it allows you to do so in ways you don’t expect and didn’t realize you needed. So I can strongly recommend The ‘Stan to all of us, because we all need to find ways of re-imagining this very powerful thing to which our familiarity has hardened us.
After editing at City Book Review for a few years, I took up the duties of editorial assistant, which include assigning books for review, posting reviews to our various sites, and nagging reviewers for things. In my non-nagging time, I’m a gamer, artist, writer, and notorious black thumb/bane of plants. My answer to every book-related question: read Octavia Butler.
|Author||Kevin Knodell • David Axe • Blue Delliquanti, Illustrator|
|Page Count||128 pages|
|Amazon||Buy this Book|