Graphic Novel Review: “War of Streets and Houses” by Sophie Yanow

I received a signed copy of this book after attending a panel discussion at ALA, and so I heard the author/artist speak before I read the book.  So from the panel, I knew that this is from her experiences living in Montreal during the student strike of 2012.  But it isn’t really about that though.  It really starts drawing parallels between urban planning and student protest, and looking to history in Algiers and Paris for support.  It also looks at her personal feelings of growing up in a rural area and then moving into an urban area.  She’s not comfortable with the lack of open space, but she’s glad to be in a place where she can find community with other queer individuals.  There is also a couple panels where she and her friends moved out of the city to a farming commune, but didn’t see how they could affect change from being in that space as opposed to the city.

Maybe you can guess at this from the way I’m talking about it, but honestly, the whole book just feels incredibly disjointed.  I think I understood as much as I did merely because I had the opportunity to hear the author speak about it.  There is really too much unexplained, even with the three pages of author notes at the end.  This books should have been at least twice as long to really flesh out everything the author really wants to say here…  I feel like she wasn’t given enough space.  The art, however, is also really sparse yet cramped feeling.  It definitely helps promote the student protester’s feeling of anger and worry and desperation, but it didn’t make it any easier to follow where the author was taking me.

*****

War of Streets and Houses

by Sophie Yanow

Uncivilized Books, 2014

69 pages

Source: ALA

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