Drawing parallels between Lebanese political unrest and his own mental health struggles, Warner’s intricate graphic memoir of his months spent in Beirut as a college student in 2005 resists simplistic clichés. When he arrives, Lebanon is still partially occupied following a 15-year civil war, but is flourishing in the delicate peace. Warner, who warns “I come off like an idiot,” is fresh off a breakup and befriends a diverse posse of mostly queer expats. They dance, travel, do drugs, hook up, and learn about Lebanese history. After the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri, Lebanon’s old demons surface, and Warner is plagued by escalating paranoia and an abstract, unnameable darkness. Lebanese “revolution” doesn’t lead directly to meaningful change, and Warner doesn’t “fix” his mind by quitting drugs or finding a therapist, though he does begin to heal. Warner’s artwork is tidy, detailed, and expressive, and he proves a confident illustrator of cityscapes, star-strewn canyons, and creepy hallucinations alike. If the final quarter of the book feels a bit meandering, it could be blamed on realism: there’s no clean narrative for the turmoil of a mind or country in unrest. Warner’s work honors the richness of Lebanon and the fragile, fleeting nature of peace. Agent: Farley Chase; Farley Chase Agency(Jan.)
Reviewed on : 10/18/2019 Release date: 01/28/2020 Genre: Comics
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.