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Book Review < Back

The Fixer

Credits: Written and Illustrated by Joe Sacco
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly


Joe Sacco has made a career out of finding the horror and humanity of war, be it in Palestine or on the crater-riddled streets of Bosnia. As the Balkan war comes to a close, Sacco returns to Sarajevo to find a city and a people drowning in post-war silence -- no one's talking, especially to him. After seven years of madness and horror, no one quite knows what to do or how to live. Sacco's Bosnia, its war not quite over but its reconstruction not quite begun, is a living Limbo and her citizens roam the streets like ghosts haunting their own past.

This is especially true for Neven, the titular Fixer and Sacco's tour guide, raconteur, and inside source while covering the war in Yugoslavia. And so Sacco again finds Neven, and Neven finds himself with no war to fight and an increasingly diminished number of options for how to make a living and to live his life. THE FIXER is Neven's story, oftentimes told in his own words. Sacco documents Neven's life story, concurrent with their relationship during the war and in the days after; as sanity and silence continues to choke the bars and cafes of Sarajevo, Neven's attempt to define his post-war identity echoes that of Bosnia itself.

THE FIXER leaps between first, second, and third person narration. While this kind of po-mo literary conceit is usually an invitation to teeth-grinding frustration, Sacco uses the technique alongside his narrative eye and journalist's toolkit to present an unflinching yet compassionate portrait of Neven as morally ambiguous and contradictory as Neven himself. The man we leave wandering sick and aimless through the streets of Sarajevo is wondering, perhaps, what exactly he fought for or how he'll be remembered. THE FIXER, a brilliant piece of comics storytelling, seems to only scratch the surface of his complex legacy.

-- Matt Fraction

Matt Fraction splits his time between motion graphics and design house MK12, writing comics, and reading comics. He is the author of the graphic novels The Annotated Mantooth and Last of the Independents, both available from AiT/Planet Lar. He can be found on the web at mattfraction.com. His wife is hot.


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