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Freedom Hospital est la première bande dessinée de Hamid Sulaiman, artiste plasticien syrien qui a fui son pays en 2011 et trouvé refuge en France après une année dans la clandestinité. Sulaiman s'inspire d'histoires vécues par des personnes de son entourage pour raconter les débuts de la guerre en Syrie, des premières manifestations pacifiques de 2011 jusqu'aux prémices d Freedom Hospital est la première bande dessinée de Hamid Sulaiman, artiste plasticien syrien qui a fui son pays en 2011 et trouvé refuge en France après une année dans la clandestinité. Sulaiman s'inspire d'histoires vécues par des personnes de son entourage pour raconter les débuts de la guerre en Syrie, des premières manifestations pacifiques de 2011 jusqu'aux prémices de Daech. Son récit est centré sur le Freedom Hospital, un hôpital clandestin créé par une militante pacifique, Yasmine, dans une ville imaginaire semblable à beaucoup de petites villes de province syriennes… Dans cet hôpital cohabitent avec Yasmine une dizaine de personnages, malades et soignants, reflétant la diversité de la société syrienne, un kurde, un alaouite, une journaliste franco-syrienne, des membres de l'Armée libre et un islamiste radical. Leurs relations vont évoluer en fonction des événements. Engagement politique, trahisons, retournements d'alliance et l'horreur de la guerre sont au cœur de l'histoire de ce groupe d'individus, pantins de l'histoire, pris dans une tourmente dont les enjeux les dépassent totalement. À travers ce terrible récit, mis en scène de façon expressionniste, avec de très forts contrastes de lumière qui noient les hommes et la ville sous un déluge d'ombres et de lumière, Hamid Sulaiman pousse un cri de rage contre la guerre, pour l'amour et la paix.


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Freedom Hospital est la première bande dessinée de Hamid Sulaiman, artiste plasticien syrien qui a fui son pays en 2011 et trouvé refuge en France après une année dans la clandestinité. Sulaiman s'inspire d'histoires vécues par des personnes de son entourage pour raconter les débuts de la guerre en Syrie, des premières manifestations pacifiques de 2011 jusqu'aux prémices d Freedom Hospital est la première bande dessinée de Hamid Sulaiman, artiste plasticien syrien qui a fui son pays en 2011 et trouvé refuge en France après une année dans la clandestinité. Sulaiman s'inspire d'histoires vécues par des personnes de son entourage pour raconter les débuts de la guerre en Syrie, des premières manifestations pacifiques de 2011 jusqu'aux prémices de Daech. Son récit est centré sur le Freedom Hospital, un hôpital clandestin créé par une militante pacifique, Yasmine, dans une ville imaginaire semblable à beaucoup de petites villes de province syriennes… Dans cet hôpital cohabitent avec Yasmine une dizaine de personnages, malades et soignants, reflétant la diversité de la société syrienne, un kurde, un alaouite, une journaliste franco-syrienne, des membres de l'Armée libre et un islamiste radical. Leurs relations vont évoluer en fonction des événements. Engagement politique, trahisons, retournements d'alliance et l'horreur de la guerre sont au cœur de l'histoire de ce groupe d'individus, pantins de l'histoire, pris dans une tourmente dont les enjeux les dépassent totalement. À travers ce terrible récit, mis en scène de façon expressionniste, avec de très forts contrastes de lumière qui noient les hommes et la ville sous un déluge d'ombres et de lumière, Hamid Sulaiman pousse un cri de rage contre la guerre, pour l'amour et la paix.

30 review for Freedom Hospital: A Syrian Story

  1. 5 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    This past week I read The Arab of the Future, volume 3 of Riad Sattouf's memoir about growing up in (mostly) Syria and France, set in the eighties, an amusing tale of an economic and political system in chaos. I also read Don Brown's YA-oriented Unwanted, stories focused on 21st century Syrian refugees, a continuing tragedy. Freedom Hospital is graphic fiction, historical fiction, set in 2012. 40, 000 people have already at this point died at this point in what was known as the Syrian Arab Sprin This past week I read The Arab of the Future, volume 3 of Riad Sattouf's memoir about growing up in (mostly) Syria and France, set in the eighties, an amusing tale of an economic and political system in chaos. I also read Don Brown's YA-oriented Unwanted, stories focused on 21st century Syrian refugees, a continuing tragedy. Freedom Hospital is graphic fiction, historical fiction, set in 2012. 40, 000 people have already at this point died at this point in what was known as the Syrian Arab Spring, what people had hoped (and still hope) was the beginning of a revolution against a brutal regime that has had international nightmarish implications. The story focuses on various young people working toward the revolution out of a small clandestine hospital. The effect isn't so much historical as "literary" which is to say it gives the feel of what it might have been for young hopeful people living in political chaos, with people dead and dying all around. It feels in story and artwork "poetic" which is to say all the connections to historical events or plot or character are less detailed, more intimated. It's scratch-off black and white artwork, sort of blotchy, which makes me think it is consistent with the diy nature of the hospital. There's a 12 character list at the opening to help you follow, maybe too many characters for a short book. My attraction to it is my third way of presenting connections to an international political disaster largely ignored by the international community. What can journalists and other writers do to bear witness? This would not be useful were it the only thing you read about Syria today, but it is useful as part of the puzzle.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Carmen

    "I'm neither a pessimist nor an optimist. I'm a realist. I never thought I'd see the day we'd be pandering to the likes of Abu Qatada and Salem." pg. 214 This isn't a good book, I'm sorry to say. I'm not even sure what it's about. I got the main message: Syria is hell. That's it. I stumbled through the book. If you asked me who the characters were and what their motivations were, I'd be unable to answer. If you asked me "What happened?" in the book, I'd be unable to answer. Who was good? Who did w "I'm neither a pessimist nor an optimist. I'm a realist. I never thought I'd see the day we'd be pandering to the likes of Abu Qatada and Salem." pg. 214 This isn't a good book, I'm sorry to say. I'm not even sure what it's about. I got the main message: Syria is hell. That's it. I stumbled through the book. If you asked me who the characters were and what their motivations were, I'd be unable to answer. If you asked me "What happened?" in the book, I'd be unable to answer. Who was good? Who did what to whom? Who betrayed whom? What the heck was going on? I have no idea. I know Hamid Sulaiman fled Syria and wrote this book to shed some light on what was going on there, but he failed. I have no idea what's going on after reading this book. The book starts with a cast of characters and that's ALWAYS a bad sign, IMO. If I can't tell your characters' stories and faces and lives apart from reading the book, we're already in trouble. You're even acknowledging this by making a Cast of Characters so we are in even deeper trouble. TL;DR The book is confusing. I couldn't follow the 'plot' and honestly had no real idea of what was going on. "Syria is hell" is basically the only thing I took away from this. NAMES IN THIS BOOK: (view spoiler)[ Yasmin f Sophie f Abu Taysir m Abu Azab m "One Eyed" Elias/Jamal m Haval m Yazan m Salem m Walid Abu Qatada m Zahabiah f Fawaz Al-Fawaz m (hide spoiler)]

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    This is the kind of book I always feel bad about not liking better. It's important subject matter about real lives being destroyed or sent into upheaval. And yet, all I do is wonder why the author didn't provide more context for the events and characters who wander through his tale, and I end up spending too much time focused on the inadequacies of the story and art. Some people live, some people die, and this story does not do much to make me care about any of them. It doesn't help that this is This is the kind of book I always feel bad about not liking better. It's important subject matter about real lives being destroyed or sent into upheaval. And yet, all I do is wonder why the author didn't provide more context for the events and characters who wander through his tale, and I end up spending too much time focused on the inadequacies of the story and art. Some people live, some people die, and this story does not do much to make me care about any of them. It doesn't help that this is a fictionalized account of the Syrian Civil War, and so I have to wonder how much license is being taken. Also, there is a constant refrain of x number of days pass and y number of people die. It's a horrifying reminder of the toll, but it also serves to start causing a detachment and makes me think of that awful old Stalin quote: "The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic." It's staggering to think how this story is set like five or six years ago, and how the death and suffering has just continued unabated in the interim. But again, the creator doesn't manage to bring this home to me between the covers of his book. And, no, the author having a character acknowledge the cheesiness of an amnesia storyline in the script does not then make the amnesia storyline not cheesy. The art is full of big black blotches that at times seem less like illustrations and more like Rorschach test inkblots. Characters are drawn in an almost impressionistic style with a minimum of lines, so they are sometimes difficult to tell apart. Action is sometimes difficult to follow. I was hoping for something that would educate and move me, but instead I'm left wishing I had read something else.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ellie

    Freedom Hospital is a mix of fact and fiction, based around an underground Syrian hospital which tends to injured rebels. At the start of the book, it feels like the rebels wanted a peaceful solution to the country's problems. As time goes on, and the death toll climbs, they are turned to violence too. This leaves a space for extremists to recruit those who feel failed by both sides and we see how Isis tried to take advantage of the situation. As well as these three factions, of course there are Freedom Hospital is a mix of fact and fiction, based around an underground Syrian hospital which tends to injured rebels. At the start of the book, it feels like the rebels wanted a peaceful solution to the country's problems. As time goes on, and the death toll climbs, they are turned to violence too. This leaves a space for extremists to recruit those who feel failed by both sides and we see how Isis tried to take advantage of the situation. As well as these three factions, of course there are those who just want to get on with their lives (along with their human rights so quashed by Assad). The daily death count printed at the top of the pages is a saddenign reminder of the senseless loss of the conflict. Assad's regime is propped up by foreign weapons, and throughout the pages, the tanks, planes and artillery are tagged by who provided what (a lot from Russia, but tother countries aren't innocent either). If you're quite well-informed of the Syria situation, I'm not sure reading this will add much, but it serves as a good introduction. It's not an intensely personal approach as Hamid has used anecdotes from many of his friends who stayed behind, rather than writing an account of his own experience. I'm not a huge fan of the artwork but its sparseness does fit with the subject matter here.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lewis Johnston

    another great graphic novel about middle eastern conflict. although sulaimans style of completely black and white, more formal(?) than cartoon, is different to almost all graphic novels i've read before, i really enjoyed it (except for one frame parodying the sistine chapel with two characters passing a zoot,gosh i couldnt help but cringe). good for basic knowledge of the early stages of the syrian civil war, leaving u with lots of pointers of where else to research etc. also highlighting hypocr another great graphic novel about middle eastern conflict. although sulaimans style of completely black and white, more formal(?) than cartoon, is different to almost all graphic novels i've read before, i really enjoyed it (except for one frame parodying the sistine chapel with two characters passing a zoot,gosh i couldnt help but cringe). good for basic knowledge of the early stages of the syrian civil war, leaving u with lots of pointers of where else to research etc. also highlighting hypocrisy from some of the powers involved, the way it points out where the arms are sold from. Dope book, Hamid!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nico T

    only downside: a mix of fiction, real events Yet a powerful insight into the once proclaimed "democratic revolutions" Whilst the book is vey anti-Assad in the beginning, it shows the true nature of war and how nearly all participants turn to monsters with more and more sufferings and retaliation.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kai Weber

    It is hard to find the right words to say about this book. The war in Syria is atrocious and abominable, and we need to know about it. I am not going to say, that in face of war only non-fictional writing is justified. No, quite the contrary, some of the greatest pieces of art are dealing with human suffering in war-times: "Guernica", "Im Westen nichts Neues", "Apocalypse Now", etc. etc. "Freedom Hospital" is a legitimate personal expression of an artist about the Syrian civil war. Yet I doubt t It is hard to find the right words to say about this book. The war in Syria is atrocious and abominable, and we need to know about it. I am not going to say, that in face of war only non-fictional writing is justified. No, quite the contrary, some of the greatest pieces of art are dealing with human suffering in war-times: "Guernica", "Im Westen nichts Neues", "Apocalypse Now", etc. etc. "Freedom Hospital" is a legitimate personal expression of an artist about the Syrian civil war. Yet I doubt that it is either useful for understanding it better or a great piece of art. And the only way for me to judge this book is by taking it as a piece of art: Much of my depreciation of this book is a problem I have with the whole genre (graphic novels and comics): I can't stand trivial text. If this genre is to be a compound of two diverse arts, the art of literature and the art of drawing, then I expect the artists of this genre to try to excel in both of these involved arts. And the conversation text in this book is commonplace in an embarrassing way, trivial, artless, below mediocre, simply bad. Now if the pictures were great, they might save some of the negative impression I had from the book. And I must admit that unlike the text, the pictures do attempt at being art. It can arouse an impression of dark times in a dark place. Nothing unexpected in view of the topic, appropriate. But why are the characters so flat, so indistinguishable? This doesn't make sense, as the dramatis personae in the beginning of the book and the development of the story treats the characters clearly as individuals, as distinguishable. And the same is true for the locations: Undamaged houses and rubble are hardly distinguishable either. I do believe that the author is mourning over the loss of his country Syria, and he is clearly in favor of the political anti-Assad opposition (not in favor of the islamist opposition, though), but he treats the country without love when he draws it. All in all this seems to be a rambling book to me. I need to get my information and my art about the tragedy of Syria from somewhere else. Any suggestions?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nallasivan V.

    As much as the remarkable story that Freedom Hospital tells, it doesn't feel very effective. The advantage that comic book format has over other mediums is the power of the visuals. Hamid Sulaiman's visuals are sketchy - minimalistic and communicating more with negative spaces rather than drawn lines. The style is effective at places, evoking a rebellious street mural kind of poignancy. But at many other places, where the critical drama happens, it falls short. One wonders if a Joe Sacco kind of As much as the remarkable story that Freedom Hospital tells, it doesn't feel very effective. The advantage that comic book format has over other mediums is the power of the visuals. Hamid Sulaiman's visuals are sketchy - minimalistic and communicating more with negative spaces rather than drawn lines. The style is effective at places, evoking a rebellious street mural kind of poignancy. But at many other places, where the critical drama happens, it falls short. One wonders if a Joe Sacco kind of attention to detail could have helped. The overall effect of Hamid's style is to make it feel like a skim through an otherwise deeply humanist tale.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Graeme

    It's near impossible to tell an uplifting or a comprehensive story of the still ongoing wars within Syria and this book doesn't attempt to do so, but tells a story of complicated situations that can't be contained within a binary of good and evil. Sulaiman, himself a Syrian refugee, attempts to educate foreigners on the international scope of the war in his home country and show that there are kind and caring people within, who believe in the human right to survive. The Syrian war carries so muc It's near impossible to tell an uplifting or a comprehensive story of the still ongoing wars within Syria and this book doesn't attempt to do so, but tells a story of complicated situations that can't be contained within a binary of good and evil. Sulaiman, himself a Syrian refugee, attempts to educate foreigners on the international scope of the war in his home country and show that there are kind and caring people within, who believe in the human right to survive. The Syrian war carries so much tragedy, day after day, and as foreigners we don't get to see many individual stories on the news. This novel was finished in 2016 and just a few months ago in 2019, new terrible dimensions of the civil war unfold, drawing more deaths and despair. [email protected]

  10. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    It’s critical to understand the complex war in Syria, a revolution that began as a hopeful resistance of a tyrannical leader turning arms on his people, that turned into a conflict between a tyrannical government and terrorist groups of the Islamic brotherhood, backed by the money and military power of Russia and the US. However, if I hadn’t already read about this, I think this book would confuse me, and graphic novels are known for their ability to make complex topics more understandable: in t It’s critical to understand the complex war in Syria, a revolution that began as a hopeful resistance of a tyrannical leader turning arms on his people, that turned into a conflict between a tyrannical government and terrorist groups of the Islamic brotherhood, backed by the money and military power of Russia and the US. However, if I hadn’t already read about this, I think this book would confuse me, and graphic novels are known for their ability to make complex topics more understandable: in that regard, this failed. The art was minimalist and sketchy, which could give an atmosphere of chaos and mess, but could also just confuse the narrative. The characters were so blurry that I could never tell who was who, much less find a way to connect and care for them, especially when the entire text was dialogue driven only. However, it is an important topic and one could do worse things than pick this up. I admire the writer and what he endured, and it was a very fast read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Becca Bennett

    I wanted to like this more than I did. This is a graphic novel portraying a resistance in Syria. A lot of the images are beautiful and shocking. But it was hard to keep track of characters throughout the story as a lot of them were drawn so similarly. I had a lot of questions at the end. But I appreciated a lot of these black and white drawings depicting what life was like 2012 Syria.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea Martinez

    All the military equipment is labelled with its model number and the country that sold it to either side. Even though it's a work of fiction I thought that was an effective device.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mark Allen

    Some page turns took my breath away, and many aspects of the storytelling and details of life in Syria during the start of a cataclysmic conflict challenged much of what I thought I already knew about the "war" and its many sides. For simply that, FREEDOM HOSPITAL is pretty much essential reading to engender better understanding of and empathy for the refugees fleeing Syria and those citizens that have chosen to stay. That said, some of the art is unclear or poorly rendered to such a degree that Some page turns took my breath away, and many aspects of the storytelling and details of life in Syria during the start of a cataclysmic conflict challenged much of what I thought I already knew about the "war" and its many sides. For simply that, FREEDOM HOSPITAL is pretty much essential reading to engender better understanding of and empathy for the refugees fleeing Syria and those citizens that have chosen to stay. That said, some of the art is unclear or poorly rendered to such a degree that it negatively affects the reading experience. I don't know Hamid Sulaiman's background as an artist or storyteller, and he certainly renders many moments with stark beauty and pathos throughout the book, but it feels at times like he's been given unbridled freedom within the medium because of his expertise on life in Syria at the beginning of the Arab Spring, not because he is fully equipped to tell that story. Let me be clear: I'm not suggesting that Sulaiman's story should have been handed to another writer/artist to be told for him. It's of supreme value that the histories of the world be told by the people who've been through them, but perhaps a little more editorial input from the original French publishers could have resulted in a more effective book. There's often dialogue present that serves neither the narrative , nor the characters or themes - at least in my interpretation - and the flow of the story often feels jerky or arbitrarily jumpy and withholding of key background information. Though perhaps my last comments were intentional formal statements about the pointless, maddening and unpredictable nature of living in a warzone. Throughout the book I did connect to the characters with ease, feeling pangs of sorrow when they left the story or took a path that drove them apart from others. Sulaiman doesn't set you up for a feel-good ending: some characters make it through to the end of the book, but nobody gets what they want, and they all have scars to show for it. "Nobody's right. Nobody's wrong." It's a tough truth to accept, but Sulaiman tries to give us the tools and insight to be able to look past right and wrong by illustrating a time and place where a few people tried to help those in most need of it in the face of grave danger and a country crumbling around them. For all its formal and narrative flaws, its purity of intent and message are unassailable.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Keen

    “’Do you know how many die every day because of your stupid quarrel?’ ‘We died 1,400 years ago. Why are people still fighting in our name?’ ‘Get out of my house and that’s a good question-ask your followers!’” Freedom hospital is an underground hospital in Syria, which does its best to save and heal the war wounded. Sulaiman makes a brave and bold attempt to translate the madness and murder of the civil war currently raging throughout the country. The story is drawn entirely in black and white, wh “’Do you know how many die every day because of your stupid quarrel?’ ‘We died 1,400 years ago. Why are people still fighting in our name?’ ‘Get out of my house and that’s a good question-ask your followers!’” Freedom hospital is an underground hospital in Syria, which does its best to save and heal the war wounded. Sulaiman makes a brave and bold attempt to translate the madness and murder of the civil war currently raging throughout the country. The story is drawn entirely in black and white, which enhances the grim atmosphere. The spare and stark art work lends the horror a sense of gritty confusion, which can sometimes intrude upon the story, but it does faithfully preserve the bleak atmosphere, in which millions have endured. We see that this is all done with weapons from Russia, USA, France, Qatar and Saudi Arabia and that the only certainties are the uncertainties and the escalating body count which continues as I type this. This is a gruesome, intense and occasionally challenging read that succeeds in dragging the murky horror of Syria into graphic form for largely ignorant western readers.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jim Angstadt

    Freedom Hospital: A Syrian Story Hamid Sulaiman, Francesca Barrie (Translator) This graphic novel gives an insight into Syria's internal war and turmoil during the 2010-13 period. Yasmin is trying to start and run an independent hospital for the victims of the fighting, but with the chronic shortages of supplies, anything resembling normal health care is out the window. Drugs, equipment, staff, quality, are simply not available. It's chaotic and dangerous. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like anythi Freedom Hospital: A Syrian Story Hamid Sulaiman, Francesca Barrie (Translator) This graphic novel gives an insight into Syria's internal war and turmoil during the 2010-13 period. Yasmin is trying to start and run an independent hospital for the victims of the fighting, but with the chronic shortages of supplies, anything resembling normal health care is out the window. Drugs, equipment, staff, quality, are simply not available. It's chaotic and dangerous. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like anything new or significant. We have become acclimated to war and turmoil for the last 150 years or so. If one counts the "Cold War" as war, then most of the twentieth century has been war after war after war. Intellectually, we know that war is destructive and can crush human life and spirit, but politically we support war. We can argue that some wars must be fought, but we know there will be casualties, death, destruction, and sorrow. Another sad data point from the front.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    A messy attempt to depict some of the confusion and chaos happening in Syria. I like that Sulaiman has depicted the chaos through a hospital, but his impartiality to the factions presented make for a dispassionate reading experience. A lot of the panels are pure expedition and don't take advantage of the format to tell something bigger. I often found myself feeling teleported around scenes in a heartbeat and not truly caring for any of the characters (who I frequently confused with each other.)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Edgar

    I'm conflicted by this book. It has a number of strong qualities that seem undermined by the craft of the author. I feel, at times, that I was reading a great work produced by someone ten years before they would be capable of doing it justice. Still, it is a book very much worth reading if I think it may be superceded by other works and reduced by time. Sulaiman has knack for making characters work. They're all very well defined in terms of their interests and ambitions. Dialogue mostly gleams, b I'm conflicted by this book. It has a number of strong qualities that seem undermined by the craft of the author. I feel, at times, that I was reading a great work produced by someone ten years before they would be capable of doing it justice. Still, it is a book very much worth reading if I think it may be superceded by other works and reduced by time. Sulaiman has knack for making characters work. They're all very well defined in terms of their interests and ambitions. Dialogue mostly gleams, but on occasion, it comes off as it maybe rushing to push along the story and as part of a rougher draft. The passage of time is marked by a death count that wears the reader down. I felt myself feeling like the characters do, weighed down by the violence around them with seemingly no end in sight even in disbelief at its own continuation. Depictions of real life videos and photos are inserted into the book as filtered through the book's style. It is one of many creative decisions that ultimately make this book greater than the sum of its parts. While the situation in Syria may be extremely complicated by any number of actors and agents, the simple graphic style of the story serves the setting well. But just because the style is simple, it does not mean it is elegant. The execution here is messy and clunky. The expressions of characters are too basic and inconsistent especially when it comes to women. The body language of the characters often exists only in a minimal way. In some pages, silhouettes tell the story and they are used to great effect. I understand the author may have wanted to boil down the visuals to its most basic point in these pages, but the composition in these panels communicates too little to tell us anything of significance. Almost every panel is stiffly posed. Whenever the story requires a sense of movement, Sulaiman loses his hold on the craft. In comparison, when Sulaiman includes them, his backgrounds are quite striking and dynamic. The high contrast style works marvelously here. At around the midpoint, pages 138 and 139 in my edition, there is a wonderful sequence where the characters set up sniper cover on a street. It is the visual highlight of the book and it may be telling that the characters occupy little real estate on these two pages. But the book accomplishes what the author sets out to do. I came away from the book, not understanding the conflict to a greater extent, but seeing it with a more sensitive, grounded point of view gifted by the author. Am I personally bringing it down too many points because of what I want to be? Is this type of journalism, one where a timely comic is created to explain a place, people and time, bound to the same standards as a regular entry of fiction? I don't know, but my ultimate recommendation is that you check this book out and make your conclusion as to what a work like this means.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joel Cuthbert

    This book attempts, admittedly, to try and tackle an immensely complex and difficult pocket of history. I admit my own lack of familiarity with both some of the names and places tied in with the conflict in Syria. I did find parts of it quite moving, and it captured the dumbfounding way one can get lost, both emotionally and in perspective, when surrounded by such constant tragedy. My complaints were that my initial confusion with keeping track of characters and events was made more challenging This book attempts, admittedly, to try and tackle an immensely complex and difficult pocket of history. I admit my own lack of familiarity with both some of the names and places tied in with the conflict in Syria. I did find parts of it quite moving, and it captured the dumbfounding way one can get lost, both emotionally and in perspective, when surrounded by such constant tragedy. My complaints were that my initial confusion with keeping track of characters and events was made more challenging by the stark minimal black and white. In one sense this added a somber layer to the images but it also caused differentiation between characters difficult. Sometimes there was a whole series of panels where I couldn’t really make out what I was seeing. Then also there was the complex timeline that jumped at differing speeds. Finally it seemed the hospital as central character didn’t really become clear for me until the conclusion, this made it difficult to navigate the plot when I was unsure who or what the central focus was. Perhaps a reader more familiar with the context might find it a more rewarding read. There were elements that certainly resonated but overall I was left a bit lost.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    Sulaiman’s Freedom Hospital is a sobering look into the Arab Spring Uprising and the Syrian Civil War. While it is fictional, the factual elements interwoven in the story offer a constant reminder of the horrors of war. I was especially moved by the regular updates that said how many more individuals had lost their lives during the time between scenes. There were times that what I read and what I saw in the illustrations made me uncomfortable, but I think this is one of the most important books Sulaiman’s Freedom Hospital is a sobering look into the Arab Spring Uprising and the Syrian Civil War. While it is fictional, the factual elements interwoven in the story offer a constant reminder of the horrors of war. I was especially moved by the regular updates that said how many more individuals had lost their lives during the time between scenes. There were times that what I read and what I saw in the illustrations made me uncomfortable, but I think this is one of the most important books I’ve read this year. It has pushed me to research the facts behind the conflicts. I think anyone could benefit from reading this.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Three and a half to four stars. It’s hard for me do rate this book because it’s such an important work, yet the topic is so complex and therefore easily confused. Hamid Sulaiman weaves a complex tale blending fact and fiction to explain the crisis in Syria. Sulaimam world hard to stay neutral in the telling which is evident as the story unfolds based on the specific images within this book. I would recognize this book as I think it has really good info. Be aware of its length though.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Young

    Interesting perspective capturing the way different Syrians react to and adjust to the ongoing civil war in Syria. All sides are humanized, while some soldiers and their leadership are revealed, having convinced themselves of false necessities which lead to the death of innocents. The middle path peacemakers are forced to join sides or be done away with. Overall, a sad story with a glimpse of some happiness in the tragedy.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ruben Kalmbach

    An illustrated graphic novel written by a Syrian artist currently living in exile between Germany and France. It eloquently narrates the reality of the crisis in Syria that began with a popular uprising against the dictatorship of Bashar Al Assad. A recommendable book for those who seek to understand the origin of one of the greatest human tragedies of our time but also for lovers of comics and graphic drama.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    A graphic novel/memoir of the endless war in Syria, from the perspective of a small rebel group that comes together to create a free hospital in the midst of the daily carnage. The personal stories of friendship and brutality are gripping. I prefer the more detailed graphic style, but the presentation here is nonetheless powerful.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I guess I liked this a lot more than others, but I still find it difficult to assign a star rating. The book was far from perfect but I admire the ambition and attempt to grasp the impossible - the inhumanity of the situation balanced with the complete humanity of of it, the everyday and the extraordinary... I also liked the artistic style for the story.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    Inspired by the author's own experieneces, this grim, intense mix of fact and fiction depicts the complexities, carnage, and devastation of the Syrian Civil War.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    Recently, I have been exploring graphic novels and giving them more attention, and I've been really enjoying them. They offer a different perspective, one that I appreciate and admire. I like the way images and words are placed together to form meaning. With this novel, I did not find that meaning that I long for with a graphic novel. Much of what the author was trying to emulate with this type of story was lost on me, not because I am an emotionless robot, but because the meaning didn't come th Recently, I have been exploring graphic novels and giving them more attention, and I've been really enjoying them. They offer a different perspective, one that I appreciate and admire. I like the way images and words are placed together to form meaning. With this novel, I did not find that meaning that I long for with a graphic novel. Much of what the author was trying to emulate with this type of story was lost on me, not because I am an emotionless robot, but because the meaning didn't come through for me like I hoped it would. It did not have the effect on my emotions that I was thinking it would. The characters had a story to be told, but I didn't like the way the narrative was so choppy that it blurred from the meaning. The use of black in this book was utter overuse. It was meant for effect and I have read graphic novels in black in white that I enjoyed but this was not one of them. I am not exactly sure what would have made this story sing to me. It simply feels incomplete to me, like it's missing a crucial piece to make it feel polished and make me in turn feel for the characters. Now, I am not heartless, I recognize that suffering beyond anything I have ever seen or experienced was portrayed in this book. For me, the way it was laid out was too choppy and fragmented to draw me in. Overall, the subject matter greatly interests me so I am greatly let down by this book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marco

    Graphically biting, narratively interesting. I think the book conveys very well the aspirations that underlay the Syrian spring and the complex entanglement of ideologies behind the conflict. I found some dialogues explanatory to the point that they felt stagey, especially in the first chapter, but I appreciated how the protagonists were characterised through gestures and postures - that really made them come alive. I also liked how video- and photograph-based material was woven into the story; Graphically biting, narratively interesting. I think the book conveys very well the aspirations that underlay the Syrian spring and the complex entanglement of ideologies behind the conflict. I found some dialogues explanatory to the point that they felt stagey, especially in the first chapter, but I appreciated how the protagonists were characterised through gestures and postures - that really made them come alive. I also liked how video- and photograph-based material was woven into the story; it didn't just make it more credible, it augmented the main characters' viewpoints and feelings. I'd recommend it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Emilia P

    I appreciate less and less work that is based on true world situations that is not transparently, but also completely, fictional. Like I am reading a book about these people! They seem real and complex! But wait they are symbols of a point you want to make! Please just make that clear from the get-gooooo. I guess its especially tricky in the already liminal/tenuous/what is precedent space of graphic novels? The story is pretty good, the illustrations are a little cheat-y, but the lack of transpare I appreciate less and less work that is based on true world situations that is not transparently, but also completely, fictional. Like I am reading a book about these people! They seem real and complex! But wait they are symbols of a point you want to make! Please just make that clear from the get-gooooo. I guess its especially tricky in the already liminal/tenuous/what is precedent space of graphic novels? The story is pretty good, the illustrations are a little cheat-y, but the lack of transparency to the way the reader is manipulated grates on me. Crank crank crank. :P

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nan

    In his postscript, Sulaiman talks about a taxi driver in Egypt who doesn't understand Syria. This book, I suppose, was an attempt to detail the war for the outside world. The drawings are black and white and as shadowy and murky as the war. They do little to create empathy for the characters caught in the conflict. The story of Salem seemed the most palpable, but it gets lost in the pages. Sulaiman's YouTube drawings and the naming of all the international weaponry added some depth to the story. In his postscript, Sulaiman talks about a taxi driver in Egypt who doesn't understand Syria. This book, I suppose, was an attempt to detail the war for the outside world. The drawings are black and white and as shadowy and murky as the war. They do little to create empathy for the characters caught in the conflict. The story of Salem seemed the most palpable, but it gets lost in the pages. Sulaiman's YouTube drawings and the naming of all the international weaponry added some depth to the story. On the whole, though, the book had too many broken pieces to come together as a whole.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    After much deliberation, I am abandoning this book that has so much potential to inform us about Syria and resistance. The super detailed double page of character bios did not get off to a good start- how am I supposed to keep all these people separate? The jagged black lines meant I couldn’t tell many female or male characters apart, and I wanted the story to carry the context for who they were rather than paging back to the intro all the time. Maybe I’m lazy, but I felt the art and the style a After much deliberation, I am abandoning this book that has so much potential to inform us about Syria and resistance. The super detailed double page of character bios did not get off to a good start- how am I supposed to keep all these people separate? The jagged black lines meant I couldn’t tell many female or male characters apart, and I wanted the story to carry the context for who they were rather than paging back to the intro all the time. Maybe I’m lazy, but I felt the art and the style asked more of me than I was willing to give. Disappointing.

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