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9 of 1: Gustavus Myers Center Review
A Graphic Novel Not to be Missed!
Oliver Chin, editorial cartoonist and columnist, creates in 9 of 1: A Window to the World (Frog, Ltd. 2003) a substantial storyline helping to make sense of a complex and tragic event, its precursors and its consequences in the bombings of Afghan people, killings of Iraqis, and more. The drawings are truly illuminating (in all senses of the word).
Chin creates a setting that is naturally multi-racial and multiethnic: a public school classroom in Fremont, California. Through the story line of students carrying out an assignment to interview a person 'different from oneself' about 9/11, we gain a wraparound sense of multi-cultural realities. Chin, a gifted illustrator and more, teaches us a lot about history and about meanings and moments of recognition for the nine students plus the nine persons interviewed. Each has a complex background shaping his or her perceptions of the tragedy of September 11th, 2001.
For example, Philip Tran, born in the States to parents who fled Vietcong takeover of Vietnam, interviews a man he finds sitting in a Russian owned bakery. In the process of his conversation with Victor Yanilov, we gain insights into both of their backgrounds, and to the pivotal moments of awareness of illusions about power and governments. They detail parallels in their histories.
Each student/interviewee exchange weaves that tapestry of facts, historical distortions and ideological myths into the range of opinions of the terrorist attacks and their consequences.
The self-disclosures as the students present to the class are memorable. Don't overlook this book. Too often adults dismiss graphic novels as a fad, a comic-book simplification. 9 of 1: A Window to the World is far from that. To those who teach and/or facilitate meetings, here's an excellent educational resource, fact and fiction, for the classroom or session.
- Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and
Human Rights, Fall 2003 Newsletter