[Reading] ➶ Lissa Author Sherine Hamdy – Dolove.info
Using a graphic medium to study ethnography a pretty brilliant idea Lissa is the first of a series called ethnoGRAPHIC, published by the University of Toronto.The story follows two girls throughout their teenage years and early adulthood one an Egyptian Muslim daughter of a chaffeur, the other an American expat between their intersecting lives in Cairo, Egypt, and Boston, USA Written with the specific purpose of ethnographic and anthropological education, each of the young women face medical challenges and decisions in their families The reader gets an overview of the culture and politics of organ transplantation in Egypt, treatment and support systems for previvors and preventative cancer screening in the US, the cultural questions of how a person reacts when they receive medical news, and the belief system around medical interventions to preserve or prolong life Placed in 2011 with the backdrop of the Tahrir Square uprising, it seemed like the writers were trying to do a little too much in this story The passage of time and perspective shift was not always clear between panels Hamdy s research appears to focus on organ transplantation in Egypt and possibly other areas in the Middle East and That was fascinating, and the story would have been stronger had it focused on a specific topic rather than introducing too many. This is as close to the perfect book as I have ever read I say this as someone who writes on comics religion, who is doing research on comics cancer, who is a convert to Islam, and is a Caucasian American I know not everyone shares my demographics and my interests, but, if I can t praise LISSA, then who can It s a daring, beautiful, intelligent, and enriching book, touching on so many urgent topics primarily, the ethnography of the Arab Spring in Cairo but also cancer research, preventative medicine, friendship, politics, sexism, loss, patriotism, etc with such skill, not to mention art The collaboration between Hamdy, Nye, Bao, Brewer, and Parenteau is a wonder Upon first read of LISSA, I m, frankly, in awe, and I plan to reread it again as soon as I can regain a critical vantage point.Until then, I m going to shout from my little soapbox This is a must read I love that I finally had a chance to savor it particularly during Ramadan, and I think it will strike people of all faiths and of a variety of circumstances deeply. As a reader, this is a moving and beautifully constructed comic bridging two cultures, medical traumas, and revolution itself As a scholar teacher, this is exactly the sort of work I believe we need in graphic medicine or other graphic disciplines The story can be approached by anyone, but it also can be pulled apart and discussed in depth from any number of points of entry In particular, the illustrations about genetic testing and patents are lesson in themselves The authors also provide commentary, interviews, explorations of how and why they chose the comic medium, discussion questions, and enough further reading suggestions that a short undergrad course could be built on them alone With Lissa, the creators have set a new standard for academically oriented comics. What an interesting book, and what a fascinating way to make ones research accessible outside of the academia The story is set primarily in Cairo and the US It s a story of two girls Layla, who is the daughter of a bawab in Cairo, and is studying to be a doctor, and Anna whose American father works for an oil company in Egypt and whose mother has recently died of breast cancer Anna fears the gene for the cancer is also in her, and explores the option of getting a preventive mastectomy Meanwhile, Layla s father has kidney disease, and there is a revolution brewing in Egypt The story points towards some of the differing ideas people communities have towards health, well being, organ donation, and the body, while also highlighting how these health challenges are happening in a period of global environmental change, corporate greed, toxic waste, and the decline of the welfare state I appreciated the representation of the hope and ultimate challenges facing the Egyptian revolution, and the unique way in which the authors invited actual graffiti artists to contribute to the graphic novel There is a lot of nuance and thought put into this text, which I think especially makes it valuable for students to engage with. As Young Girls In Cairo, Anna And Layla Strike Up An Unlikely Friendship That Crosses Class, Cultural, And Religious Divides Years Later, Anna Learns That She May Carry The Hereditary Cancer Gene Responsible For Her Mother S Death Meanwhile, Layla S Family Is Faced With A Difficult Decision About Kidney Transplantation Their Friendship Is Put To The Test When These Medical Crises Reveal Stark Differences In Their Perspectivesuntil Revolutionary Unrest In Egypt Changes Their Lives ForeverThe First Book In A New Series, Lissa Brings Anthropological Research To Life In Comic Form, Combining Scholarly Insights And Accessible, Visually Rich Storytelling To Foster Greater Understanding Of Global Politics, Inequalities, And Solidarity Lissa is a fascinating combination of academic research presented through a narrative graphic novel It s an intriguing way of trying to make scholarly work accessible, though I think this particular book failed a bit both as a good reflection of the academic research, but also as a compelling narrative Though the creators were obviously trying to avoid putting out a 1000 page book, there needed to be a bit depth to make either aspect of the comic memorable However, admirable efforts and still a good read it s a very interesting, very unexpected graphic novel about medical decision making set during the egyptian revolution i just think it could have gone a bit deeper re the medical decision making stuff as sherine hamdy is an academic and this is her area. Upon first glance, LISSA comes off as the sort of book that I would not at all be interested in For one, the art style isn t the type that typically attracts me, because it is the sort of style that one would generally associate with books geared to a much younger audience Secondly, the book, upon first glance, seems to deal with the Egyptian revolution in some fashion This isn t in itself a bad thing, but because the Egyptian revolution is too grand and important a topic, I find that most graphic novels that have dealt with it in the past have done so rather poorly Understandable given the weight of the subject matter which demands quite a lot from anyone attempting to tackle it Thirdly, the book is published by the University of Toronto Press, a publisher of academic books Since graphic novels aren t exactly their specialty, I suppose there is the tendency from the average comix reader to assume that these people couldn t possibly know the first thing about publishing a quality graphic novel and would, very likely, produce something that is quite subpar Fourthly, I had never heard of any of the creators responsible for producing the book, and so assumed they probably wouldn t know the first thing about creating a graphic novel either.I must say, I was wrong an all accounts I started reading the book and I could not for the life of me put it down I started reading it in the morning, and did not put it down before finishing it that very evening, after one long uninterrupted sitting My, what a masterpiece The story follows Anna, the daughter of an American expat in Cairo who works for a multinational oil company Anna s mother is suffering from Stage 4 cancer, a terribly difficult time for young Anna whose only real comfort can be found through her best friend, Layla, the daughter of the building s caretaker A most beautiful and ultimately unusual friendship given the differences in class, race, and culture By the time Anna must leave Cairo for college in the US, her mom has already passed and she has developed a fear of inheriting the breast cancer gene herself.Years pass, and the Egyptian revolution breaks out At this point, Layla is a med student already dealing with the complexities of classism at Cairo University s med school She volunteers for the makeshift clinics tending to the protestors wounded by the regime s heavy handed response Anna, still in touch with her childhood friend, is compelled to return to Cairo and try to help the cause Anna sees people actively sacrificing their bodies for a greater cause, while she is considering obliterating part of her own body as a preventative measure against getting breast cancer, for which she discovers she does in fact have the gene And that doesn t even cover half of it The story, through Anna and Layla s friendship, and through the relationship each one has with their own family and society at large, all against the backdrop of the Egyptian revolution becomes an examination of cultural differences as well as cultural intersectionality It s a book about hope and sacrifice, and the effects of capitalism, not just on societies but also on modern medicine, and the environment Such a complex work that somehow ends up becoming nothing less of a piercing examination of life itself in the 21st century.A truly groundbreaking masterpiece that should be required reading for every human being alive A note on the art The art may come off as deceivingly weak, but upon a close reading, one finds that the art actually does a superb job at communicating all the emotional complexities inherent in the story, and as such it becomes difficult to deem the art as anything but effective Which indeed makes it powerful Bravo and thanks to all the creators involved True unsung masters of the graphic novel medium. Lissa A Story about Medical Promise, Friendship, and Revolution is a graphic novel following two girls, one American and one Egyptian, as they grow up, choose careers, and lose family members Although the story is fictional, it combines anthropological research about American and Egyptian healthcare cultures with the story of the 2011 Egyptian revolution This unique concept ethnography via graphic novel is the first in a series called ethnoGRAPHIC from the University of Toronto Press.The story opens with the friendship between Anna the daughter of an American businessman and the bawab s daughter Layla The bawab, or doorman, is at the very bottom of the Egyptian social classes, and Anna s association with Layla is frowned upon by the upper class residents of the building But the girls don t care They remain close even after Anna s mother dies She is sent to a boarding school in the US but returns every summer to visit her dad and see Layla.The story of Layla and Anna s friendship is enough to make this book a worthwhile read, but it has so many additional layers that make it even better.One of these layers is the medical layer Anna s mother dies of breast cancer When she is old enough and can be tested for the BRCA1 gene, she has to reckon with the multiplicity of issues that come with that decision Meanwhile, back in Egypt, Layla s father is suffering from kidney failure and refuses to consider a transplant even though a family member has offered to be a donor The book uses the different characters approaches to medical treatments to discuss the two cultures understandings of the body and medicine.Yet another layer is that the latter portion of the book takes place during the 2011 revolution, and it provides a great introduction to the events of that year.This story is also about poverty and the way that that translates into a lack of preventative medical care Layla is in medical school with well to do students who criminalize poverty and rail against their ignorant peasant patients behind their backs I lived in Egypt for years, and I was there during the 2011 revolution I found this book to be spot on in terms of accurately representing life there, including the events of 2011 and, unfortunately, attitudes toward the poor I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Egypt, the Arab spring, or how medical attitudes differ across cultures. I was very hopeful about this book as I picked it up at a local Half Price Books I enjoy looking for graphic novels that embark on a journey of humanity This one, however, tried too hard Honestly, I wanted to like it I wanted it to be powerful and changing, and I think the authors intended it to as well, but it is simply so poorly executed that readers stomp through without feeling moved There is no a speck of natural empathy the book creates for readers that the Egyptian revolution wouldn t already spark It also is disguised as a coming of age story in the realm of cancer, and the protagonist must deal with mortality and death in by cancer in a metaphorical sense as the revolution Unfortunately, the metaphor is overdone, weak, and feels very fake Where so many graphic artists speak from their experiences this is just a poorly drawn story It doesn t work.The art is also exceptionally poorly done There are few panels that I even enjoyed studying and thinking about Everything just seems out of place I can appreciate the awareness the graphic novel is trying to illustrate, but it does such a poor job that ultimately it almost becomes unreadable.