Sunday, September 22, 2013

Review: Pyongyang

This is an odd book. It brings together the graphic novel and North Korean austerity. Canadian animator Guy Delisle spent time in North Korea, which has apparently become the new favored source for cheap animation labor. In this book Delisle captures the absurdities of life in Pyongyang, more through pictures than through words. Only one floor of Delisle's massive hotel has electricity, there's bizarre and uninspired food, and minimal recreation activities. Delisle brings a copy of 1984 with him, and North Korea is certainly an Orwellian society.

I think I would have found this book more effective if I didn't really know anything about North Korea. There's nothing really surprising here. I enjoyed Delisle's drawings, but I felt like there was too much drawing and not enough narrative. I think I'd have preferred an art exhibit to a book. Ultimately the book lacks depth, and the illustrations don't make up for what the writing lacks.

Guy Delisle, Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea (Drawn and Quarterly, 2007) ISBN: 1897299214 

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