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Escaping Wars and Waves: Encounters with Syrian Refugees

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While on assignment between 2013 and 2017, often for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), Olivier Kugler interviewed and photographed Syrian refugees and their caregivers in camps, on the road, and in provisional housing in Iraqi Kurdistan, Greece, France, Switzerland, and England. Escaping Wars and Waves is the astonishing result of that record keeping--a g While on assignment between 2013 and 2017, often for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), Olivier Kugler interviewed and photographed Syrian refugees and their caregivers in camps, on the road, and in provisional housing in Iraqi Kurdistan, Greece, France, Switzerland, and England. Escaping Wars and Waves is the astonishing result of that record keeping--a graphic novel that brings to life the improvised living conditions of the refugees, along with the stories of how they survived. Kugler captures the chaotic energy of the camps through movement-filled drawings, based on the photos he took in the field, that depict figures, locations, and seemingly random details that take on their own resonance. He also gives precedence to the voices of the refugees themselves by incorporating excerpts from his many interviews and portraits sketched from thousands of reference photos. What emerges is a complicated and intense narrative of loss, sadness, fear, and hope and an indelible impression of the refugees as individual humans with their own stories, rather than a faceless mass. Escaping Wars and Waves is an unnervingly close and poignant look at the lives of those affected by the Syrian war and the doctors and volunteers who tend to them.


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While on assignment between 2013 and 2017, often for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), Olivier Kugler interviewed and photographed Syrian refugees and their caregivers in camps, on the road, and in provisional housing in Iraqi Kurdistan, Greece, France, Switzerland, and England. Escaping Wars and Waves is the astonishing result of that record keeping--a g While on assignment between 2013 and 2017, often for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), Olivier Kugler interviewed and photographed Syrian refugees and their caregivers in camps, on the road, and in provisional housing in Iraqi Kurdistan, Greece, France, Switzerland, and England. Escaping Wars and Waves is the astonishing result of that record keeping--a graphic novel that brings to life the improvised living conditions of the refugees, along with the stories of how they survived. Kugler captures the chaotic energy of the camps through movement-filled drawings, based on the photos he took in the field, that depict figures, locations, and seemingly random details that take on their own resonance. He also gives precedence to the voices of the refugees themselves by incorporating excerpts from his many interviews and portraits sketched from thousands of reference photos. What emerges is a complicated and intense narrative of loss, sadness, fear, and hope and an indelible impression of the refugees as individual humans with their own stories, rather than a faceless mass. Escaping Wars and Waves is an unnervingly close and poignant look at the lives of those affected by the Syrian war and the doctors and volunteers who tend to them.

30 review for Escaping Wars and Waves: Encounters with Syrian Refugees

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    Chore reading, because it's good for you. An artist interviews lots of Syrian refugees then jumbles their words and his images in two page spreads with word balloons and captions that have to be numbered in order to give you any sort of clue of how to read the mess. And often the words don't even fit inside the balloons and boxes, squirting out or jumping to the other side of the page with asterisks. Attention is drawn to certain details in the art, usually random objects, with arrows and labels Chore reading, because it's good for you. An artist interviews lots of Syrian refugees then jumbles their words and his images in two page spreads with word balloons and captions that have to be numbered in order to give you any sort of clue of how to read the mess. And often the words don't even fit inside the balloons and boxes, squirting out or jumping to the other side of the page with asterisks. Attention is drawn to certain details in the art, usually random objects, with arrows and labels. The art is good, make no mistake, and uses an interesting after-image technique to give a sense of movement, though the coloring is at times as random as the text placement. In making a work of art of his project, though, I feel the creator may have distracted me from the human testimony that should be front and center?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Tabler

    This graphic novel is beautifully illustrated. There is not any story as they are vignettes from different refugees lives. Each vignette is completely different. Rather than telling a cohesive story, this graphic novel reads much like someone's art diary. It is a collection of sketches punctuated by notations that help illustrate the individual's stories. The coloring is done sparingly and to good effect. It accents major events and important visuals while allowing other things to fade into the This graphic novel is beautifully illustrated. There is not any story as they are vignettes from different refugees lives. Each vignette is completely different. Rather than telling a cohesive story, this graphic novel reads much like someone's art diary. It is a collection of sketches punctuated by notations that help illustrate the individual's stories. The coloring is done sparingly and to good effect. It accents major events and important visuals while allowing other things to fade into the background. I recommend this if you are into history and peoples personal stories. I think if you are you will find this enlightening and well done.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Parker

    What a moving graphic novel about Syrian refugees. Often we hear about them from others' points of view, but here we hear from them through interviews at various refugee camps in Europe. It is beautifully written and illustrated (it won the European Design Awards Jury Prize in 2018). What a moving graphic novel about Syrian refugees. Often we hear about them from others' points of view, but here we hear from them through interviews at various refugee camps in Europe. It is beautifully written and illustrated (it won the European Design Awards Jury Prize in 2018).

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    The layout is sometimes hard to follow, but it really shows the hardships that Syrian refugees face as they try to make their life in European countries. I don't know how someone could read this and not feel for their plight. The layout is sometimes hard to follow, but it really shows the hardships that Syrian refugees face as they try to make their life in European countries. I don't know how someone could read this and not feel for their plight.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cheriee Weichel

    This nonfiction graphic text brought tears to my eyes numerous times. The book was commissioned by MSF to portray experiences of Syrian refugees in order to raise awareness of their situations. It's a hard read emotionally, but worth it. Olivier Kugler explains that all his requests to interview women at the Domiz Refugee camp were turned down. He was able to speak to some women in camps in Europe. The result is that these are primarily narratives of men, but there are a few stories of women. Th This nonfiction graphic text brought tears to my eyes numerous times. The book was commissioned by MSF to portray experiences of Syrian refugees in order to raise awareness of their situations. It's a hard read emotionally, but worth it. Olivier Kugler explains that all his requests to interview women at the Domiz Refugee camp were turned down. He was able to speak to some women in camps in Europe. The result is that these are primarily narratives of men, but there are a few stories of women. The book tells many different individual and family stories. All of these people fled Syria fearing for their lives. Their journeys are harrowing and heartbreaking. There is a kind of chaos to how the book is formatted with what at first glimpse seems to be images and text haphazardly strew across the page. Some of the text is ordered with numbers and arrows. On other pages I started at the top left hand corner and worked my through it. It all ended up making too much sense to me. The artwork is crowded and images at times feel fluid and without proper outlines. This format creates a kind of instability that leaves the reader feeling out of control and not sure what is going to happen next. I hope it's as close as I ever get to being a refugee.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Suzan Jackson

    A powerful, compelling set of profiles of Syrian refugees in locations around the world, with their stories told through realistic drawings and interviews. A must-read to better understand the world today. Read my full review at Shelf Awareness: https://www.shelf-awareness.com/reade... A powerful, compelling set of profiles of Syrian refugees in locations around the world, with their stories told through realistic drawings and interviews. A must-read to better understand the world today. Read my full review at Shelf Awareness: https://www.shelf-awareness.com/reade...

  7. 5 out of 5

    mary ❀

    The stylistic way this book was done (words all over the place, sometimes even sideways, and half colored drawings) gave me a headache. The content is interesting though. If you read it, I advise you don’t do it all in one day like I did.

  8. 4 out of 5

    John Kaye

    Not natural territory for me, either the content or the style. A present from my daughter. A lot of the artwork is very well done, and the male faces, in particular, are quite wonderful. The book is only eighty pages, but I felt that the intensity of the subject matter and presentation might have been better served in much smaller does. And I know that makes no artistic or commercial sense: a book it has to be (perhaps I shouldn't have read it in one day...). Not natural territory for me, either the content or the style. A present from my daughter. A lot of the artwork is very well done, and the male faces, in particular, are quite wonderful. The book is only eighty pages, but I felt that the intensity of the subject matter and presentation might have been better served in much smaller does. And I know that makes no artistic or commercial sense: a book it has to be (perhaps I shouldn't have read it in one day...).

  9. 5 out of 5

    James (Jimmie) Price

    What a shame. While the content is important, fascinating, and heartbreaking to see and hear about, the layout, the coloring, and the placement of speech bubbles on each and every page made this book an absolute chore to try and read, which I believe actually does a real disservice to the people the author/artist is trying to help by sharing their stories. These stories need to be heard, but not like this. The focus on style overwhelms the gravitas of the substance.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Really excellent work and does a good job of individualizing the Syrian refugee crisis. Only complaint is that the unconventional format makes it a bit challenging to read when the author stops numbering speech bubbles.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    362.87095 K959e 2018

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christina

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anton Dubovik

  14. 5 out of 5

    Book Club of One

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shea Proulx

  16. 4 out of 5

    Molly Sparks

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey

  18. 5 out of 5

    JC

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

  20. 4 out of 5

    Angus Macdonald

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sean

  22. 4 out of 5

    Erin Boyington

  23. 5 out of 5

    Elvis Alves

  24. 5 out of 5

    T

  25. 4 out of 5

    Aziza Mehmoudzai

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nora

  27. 4 out of 5

    PatR

  28. 5 out of 5

    Grace Kelly

  29. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michaelyuri

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