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Lissa 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 ineualities and solidarity 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 uniue concept ethnography via graphic novel is the first in a series called ethnoGRAPHIC from the University of Toronto PressThe 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 LaylaThe 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 betterOne 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 medicineYet 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 yearThis 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 The jacket flap touts this as the first book in a new series “ that realizes ethnographic research in graphic novel form” Sounds potentially boring I know but it's actually pretty cool Anna and Layla strike up an unlikely friendship as young girls in Cairo When Anna’s mother dies of cancer she is forced to return to the US to live though the two friends promise to stay in touch In later years each faces a medical crisis Anna the choice of preventive surgery to decrease her chances of sharing her mother's fate; and Layla her father's kidney failure and refusal to consider a transplant and their friendship is put to the test due to stark differences in their perspective And then in 2011 revolutionary unrest in Egypt changes their lives forever The best approach I think with this graphic novel is to ignore all the academic foofaraw Don't read the jacket flaps Don't read the text about the ethnoGRAPHIC imprint Don't read the Afterword and the Appendices Just read the story Try not to go into it with a bunch of fears and expectations You’ll appreciate the story Trust me Yeah the art is crude but serviceable But it's still a good story All the academic stuff is best appreciated afterward There is a lot of it We’re talking Criterion Collection levels of extras here My favorite bits are probably the discussion of the storytelling which point out some of the subtler aspects of the artwork and the way in which the story was broken down If this book is a typical example I’m looking forward to the rest of the series Recommended 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 TorontoThe 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 uestions 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 Suare 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 As a reader this is a moving and beautifully constructed comic bridging two cultures medical traumas and revolution itself As a scholarteacher 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 uestions 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

  • Paperback
  • 304 pages
  • Lissa
  • Sherine Hamdy
  • 27 August 2016
  • 9781487593476

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