by Joe Sacco
From the "heir to R. Crumb and Art Spiegelman" (Economist), a masterful work of comics journalism about indigenous North America, resource extraction, and our debt to the natural world
The Dene have lived in the vast Mackenzie River Valley since time immemorial, by their account. To the Dene, the land owns them, not the other way around, and it is central to their livelihood and very way of being. But the subarctic Canadian Northwest Territories are home to valuable resources, including oil, gas, and diamonds. With mining came jobs and investment, but also road-building, pipelines, and toxic waste, which scarred the landscape, and alcohol, drugs, and debt, which deformed a way of life.
In Paying the Land, Joe Sacco travels the frozen North to reveal a people in conflict over the costs and benefits of development. The mining boom is only the latest assault on indigenous culture: Sacco recounts the shattering impact of a residential school system that aimed to "remove the Indian from the child"; the destructive process that drove the Dene from the bush into settlements and turned them into wage laborers; the government land claims stacked against the Dene Nation; and their uphill efforts to revive a wounded culture.
Against a vast and gorgeous landscape that dwarfs all human scale, Paying the Land lends an ear to trappers and chiefs, activists and priests, to tell a sweeping story about money, dependency, loss, and culture--recounted in stunning visual detail by one of the greatest cartoonists alive.
"Nuanced, highly sensitive journalism . . . Sacco's measured artwork lets the Dene people speak for themselves, working in tandem with the historical and sociopolitical context that he deftly interweaves." -- The Times Literary Supplement
"It has been more than ten years since Joe Sacco, one of our greatest living graphic journalists, has produced a full-length work, and the wait has been worth it. . . . an immersive exploration that casts its net across a broad panoply of topics while still hewing to the granular details that make Sacco's work so rewarding."-- Minneapolis Star Tribune
"A tour de force . . . luminous . . . Joe Sacco's large-scale panels teem with detail, visual and verbal . . . What begins as an exploration of the effects of fracking on Native lands sprawls into a haunted history of an entire civilization." --Ed Park, The New York Times Book Review
About the Author:
Joe Sacco is the author of Footnotes in Gaza, for which he received an Eisner Award and the Ridenhour Book Prize, as well as Palestine, Journalism, Safe Area Gorazde (also an Eisner winner ), and other books. His works have been translated into fourteen languages and his comics reporting has appeared in Details, The New York Times Magazine, Time, and Harpers. He lives in Portland, Oregon.