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Book Review Drawing discomfort from the Syrian refugee crisis

Escaping Wars and Waves: Encounters with Syrian Refugees
by Oliver Kugler
(Myriad £19.99)

AN ILLUSTRATED reportage documenting the fate of disparate and scattered Syrian refugees between 2013-16, Oliver Kugler's Escaping Wars and Waves reflects on the internecine conflict instigated by the West along the Libya and Ukraine “regime change”strategies to remove President Bashar al-Assad from power.

In consequence, millions of Syrians were displaced internally and beyond their country's borders.
 
At different times, Kugler went to the Domino camp for the displaced in Iraq, the Greek island of Kos, the “Jungle” squatter camp in Calais, resettled refugees in Birmingham and a family of refugees living temporarily close to his parents in his home town of Simmozheim in Germany’s Black Forest.

Diligently recording conversations, taking pictures and drawing people and their surroundings, he evidences “man's inhumanity to man.” But the drawing style — sketches of minute detail contrasted on each page with overlaid realist drawings of the central protagonists, together with interminable speech balloons and additional scribbled comment — create an information overload that often perplexes.
 
That might very well be a deliberate graphic ploy to represent lives that have been shattered, fragmented and scattered like reflections in a broken mirror, offering diverse perspectives of a ruptured reality.
 
Yet, while each of these individual narratives is as epic as it is compelling, fostering a sense of personal solidarity as well as better understanding, the over-abundance of forensic detail leads to the political forest not being seen for the trees.
 

 

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