notes on dutch literature

When David Lost His Voice

In Review on November 24, 2012 at 8:00 AM

When David Lost his Voice

Belgian Comic artist Judith Vanistendael’s latest graphic novel When David Lost His Voice is moving and powerful. “An superb graphic account of a family coping with cancer is moving without being mawkish […] This is an amazing book, one of the best published by the clever people at Self Made Hero so far”. – Rachel Cooke, The Observer.

The eponymous David learns that he has throat cancer just as his granddaughter is born—but tells no one for two months. As he undergoes treatment and his condition worsens, his family circles around him and around each other. David stays largely silent. The story is about watching a loved-one live with and die of cancer—and that focus lends itself particularly well to the graphic form. It is an outstanding testimony. The narrative is unflinching in depicting the black wars that break out among David’s family, even amid the deepest sorrow. The most touching moments of this book are the family’s fleeting glimpses of the shrinking, fading man. When David turns his back to reach a book for his older daughter, Miriam, she sees a skeleton through his suit jacket; when he turns back to her he is only bones.

When David Lost His Voice is published by Self Made Hero (April 2012, UK) and translated by Nora Mahony.

Read the full review in The Economist.

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