Zeina Abirached (author), Zeina Abirached (illustrator), Edward Gauvin (translator); A GAME FOR SWALLOWS; Graphic Universe (Children's: Young Adult Fiction) 9.95 ISBN: 9781575059419
Byline: Angela Leeper
Zeina Abirached's evocative memoir, translated from French and told in a graphic novel format, opens with an attractive skyline of East Beirut in 1984. As the perspective zooms in, the initial beauty gives way to empty streets, windows protected by cinder blocks, rooftops lined with barbed wire, electrical wires dangling from homes, and rows upon rows of steel drums indicating the Green Line, a demarcation separating Muslim and Christian factions during the Lebanese Civil War, which took place from 1975 to 1990. The author's apartment building looks out over this troubled area.
On the evening this story takes place, a young Zeina and her even younger brother, await the return of their parents, who have gone to visit their grandmother. Although she only lives a few blocks away, her apartment is situated on the other side of the Green Line and requires Zeina's parents to follow a precise path to avoid sniper fire. One by one, Zeina's nine apartment neighbors gather in her tiny foyer, an interior and therefore safer room in the building. Among them are Chucri, whose taxi driver father was murdered at the beginning of the war and whose generator keeps the building running during routine blackouts, a young couple expecting their first child and awaiting emigration to Canada, and Ernest, a former high...