THE FIXER: A Story from Sarajevo

Joe Sacco, Author
Joe Sacco, Author . Drawn and Quarterly $24.95 (140p) ISBN 978-1-896597-60-7
Paperback - 112 pages - 978-0-224-07382-0
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Intrepid reporter and comics artist Sacco returns to Bosnia and Sarajevo to chronicle Neven, a "fixer" who leads Western reporters to stories, dispensing information and literally guiding them through the fascinating, dangerous landscape of post-war Sarajevo and Bosnia. Neven worked for Sacco (Safe Area Gorazde ) when he wrote his previous book about the Bosnian war. Initially suspicious of him, Sacco gradually realized Neven's own story—a microcosm of the Balkan conflict itself—may be the most compelling story of all. A native Sarajevan, Neven watched as rebel Serb nationalists armed themselves against an unarmed multi-ethnic Sarajevo and Bosnian Republic. Neven eventually fought to defend Sarajevo as his city was torn apart. He joined criminal gangs, thieves and borderline sociopaths—warlords who often defied the government—who ultimately took up the call to defend the Bosnian Republic. Wounded in combat, Neven became a fixer but was intimately involved—as a legitimate soldier, guerilla irregular and victimized citizen—in every aspect of the bloody conflict. He's really selling Sacco his own story ("Can you imagine the sort of movie that could be made about bastards like me?"), and Sacco marvelously weaves in his own feelings of uneasiness and awe at his guide's grim life story. The tightly wound, humane and suspenseful nonfiction graphic novella employs visual devices—e.g., the haunted, unreliable protagonist, obscured by shadow and cigarette smoke—from the best traditions of film noir. Sacco's finely wrought, expressively rendered b&w drawings perfectly capture the emotional character of Sarajevo and the people who struggle to live there. This superlative and important story is easily one of the best comics nonfiction works of the year. (Nov.)

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