Translation: Heike Drescher
In July 1997, Christophe André, an aid worker for Doctors Without Borders, was abducted in the Caucasus and imprisoned for 111 days, most of them spent handcuffed to a radiator in a bare room. In Geisel, French-Canadian cartoonist Guy Delisle – whose reports from cities such as Jerusalem and Pyongyang became international bestsellers – tells the story of Christophe André’s ordeal.
Geisel is 432 pages long; the style is simple and sparse, the page layout is uniform, and the blue tone has a cool, almost discomfiting effect. Delisle refrains from portraying the abduction as an action spectacle; instead, he depicts the oppressive boredom, the soul-destroying waiting and the endless repetition of daily routines. More than that, he makes them palpable to the reader.
Despite his economical style, the author succeeds in creating an exciting narrative and atmospheric pull that inexorably draws in the reader until they experience André’s imprisonment from his own perspective. Geisel is an impressive achievement: never before has boredom been so exciting and dramatic.