Hostage – Guy Delisle

Hostage by Guy Delisle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Diamond Comics Distributors
First Published: May 4th, 2017
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
Recommended Age: 13+
Pacing: Slow
Genres & Themes: Graphic Novel, Nonfiction, Suspense


In the middle of the night in 1997, Doctors Without Borders administrator Christophe André was kidnapped by armed men and taken away to an unknown destination in the Caucasus region. For three months, André was kept handcuffed in solitary confinement, with little to survive on and almost no contact with the outside world. Close to twenty years later, award-winning cartoonist Guy Delisle (Pyongyang, Jerusalem, Shenzhen, Burma Chronicles) recounts André’s harrowing experience in Hostage, a book that attests to the power of one man’s determination in the face of a hopeless situation.

This is a real story. It took the author fifteen years to finish this nonfiction book.

A man is kidnapped as he is doing humanitarian work in Nazran in 1997. He doesn’t understand what is happening, seeing that he is working for an NGO and has no conflict whatsoever with the country or leaders of Russia.

He thinks maybe they want the money from the safe, but they don’t seem to be interested in the keys that open it, which are located in his pockets. So Christophe spends his time locked away wondering what his abductors want and when he will be released.

This is a very repetitive story. I want to make that extremely clear, because not much actually happens in it. However, that is to be expected or at least understood. After all, Christophe can’t control anything. He is manacled, locked, starved… He has no way of escaping or contacting someone.

He spends months thinking—reassuring himself that everything will be alright soon enough. He can only go on if he knows there is hope. The truth is, that is the only thing that keeps him going. In fact, when everything is taken away from you—your family, rights, liberty, life—the only thing that can keep you from losing your mind is the thought of one day getting those things back in some way.

That is exactly why Christophe keeps sane. He thinks of his sister, the beautiful city of Paris and unimportant, but soothing to him, historical facts/events/characters.

Although it’s a slow-paced and repetitive story, it’s also rather suspenseful, especially since, like Christophe himself, you never know when the torture will end. It might be in the next page, chapter or never. You just don’t know, so you keep on reading, because you can’t imagine yourself giving up on this book, and by extension, giving up on Christophe.

At least, that’s how I felt.

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